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With  over  thirty  million  automobiles  in  the 
United  States  today,  and  the  problems  of  ve- 
hicular transportation  increasingly  complex 
and  pressing,  it  seems  almost  incredible  that 
this  should  be  the  first  and  only  book  that 
has  ever  comprehensively  treated  the  subject 
both  historically  and  with  a  view  to  offering 
a  solution.  Norman  Bel  Geddes,  one  of  the 
foremost  designers  in  the  world,  has  been 
studying  the  situation  intensively  for  several 
years.  Out  of  his  research  came  recently  his 
spectacularly  successful  General  Motors  Fu- 
turama for  the  New  York  World's  Fair,  and 
now  this  fascinating  book. 

Magic  Motorways,  after  a  brief  review  of 
the  history  of  old  and  new  roads  and  auto- 
motive traffic  in  America,  presents  a  detailed 
plan  for  an  entirely  new  type  of  national 
motorways  system.  At  first,  some  of  its  fea- 
tures may  strike  the  reader  as  a  fantastic 
dream,  but  Mr.  Geddes  proves  their  practic- 
ability. Grandma  wrapped  her  linen  duster 
around  her  neck  and  fearfully  went  out  for  a 
spin  at  eight  dizzy  miles  an  hour.  But  your 
grandchildren  will  snap  across  the  entire  con- 
tinent in  24  hours  on  a  new  kind  of  highway 
and  in  a  new  kind  of  car  that  is  controlled 
by  the  push  of  a  button! 

This  book  is  illustrated  with  numerous 
original  drawings  and  over  150  photographs. 
It  will  prove  of  vital  interest  to  everyone  who 
drives  or  rides  on  the  crowded  city  streets  or 
highways  of  America. 





1 .  Highways  and  Horizons 

2.  Safety,  Comfort,  Speed  and  Economy  1 5 

3.  Eliminate  the  Human  Factor  in  Driving  43 

4.  Separated  Lanes  of  Traffic  59 

5 .  Every  Highway  Intersection  Is  Obsolete  8  3 

6.  Full  Speed  Through  Bottlenecks  105 

7.  Daylight  Standards  for  Night  Driving  123 

8.  From  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific  in  One  Day  141 

9.  Eliminate  Graft  and  Double  Highway  Construction  165 

10.  Motorway  Service  to  Towns  and  Villages  185 

11.  Motorway  Tributaries  to  Cities  203 

12.  Accelerating  City  Traffic  One  Hundred  Per  Cent  221 

13.  The  Need  for  Increased  Distribution  247 

14.  Thinking  for  Our  Grandchildren  263 

15.  Effects  of  a  National  Motorway  System  285 


This  book  could  hardly  have  been  written  without  the  invaluable  help  of  Roger 
Nowland  and  Worthen  Paxton,  for  whose  constant  encouragement  and  able  advice 
I  am  very  grateful;  of  Joan  Geddes  and  William  Harlan  Hale  in  an  editorial  capacity; 
of  Joseph  Goldsen  for  statistical  and  historical  material;  of  Peter  Schladermundt  and 
Russell  Fudge,  in  assembling  the  illustrations. 

It  would  be  quite  impossible  adequately  to  thank  all  the  other  individuals  and  or- 
ganizations who,  in  one  way  or  another,  have  assisted  me  in  the  preparation  of  this 
volume.  The  book  is  the  result  of  five  years'  concentrated  study  by  members  of  my 
organization  and  people  on  the  outside  who  have  most  generously  put  themselves  at 
our  disposal. 

I  have  made  liberal  use,  not  always  accredited  in  the  text,  of  the  knowledge  and 
ideas  of  the  following  organizations: 

American  Association  of  State  Highway  Officials 

American  Road  Builders  Association 

Automobile  Club  of  Southern  California 

Automobile  Manufacturers  Association 

Institute  of  Traffic  Engineers 

National  Highway  Users  Conference 

National  Research  Council 

National  Safety  Council 

Port  of  New  York  Authority 

Public  Roads  Administration 

Regional  Plan  Association  of  New  York 

State  Highway  Departments  of  numerous  states,  especially  New  York,  New 
Jersey,  Pennsylvania  and  California 

Yale  University  Bureau  for  Street  Traffic  Research 




IIVE  million  people  saw  the  Futurama  of  the  General  Motors  Highways 
and  Horizons  Exhibit  at  the  New  York  World's  Fair  during  the  summer  of 
1939.  In  long  queues  that  often  stretched  more  than  a  mile,  from  5,000 
to  15,000  men,  women  and  children  at  a  time,  stood,  all  day  long  every 
day,  under  the  hot  sun  and  in  the  rain,  waiting  more  than  an  hour  for  their 
turn  to  get  a  sixteen-minute  glimpse  at  the  motorways  of  the  world  of  to- 
morrow. There  have  been  hit  shows  and  sporting  events  in  the  past  which  had 
waiting  lines  for  a  few  days,  but  never  before  had  there  been  a  line  as  long  as 
this,  renewing  itself  continuously,  month  after  month,  as  there  was  every  day 
at  the  Fair. 

The  people  who  conduct  polls  to  find  out  why  other  people  do  things, 
and  the  editorial  writers,  newspaper  men  and  columnists  who  report  daily  on 
the  doings  of  the  human  race,  all  had  their  theory  as  to  why  the  Futurama  was 
the  most  popular  show  of  any  Fair  in  history.  And  most  of  them  agreed  that 
the  explanation  was  really  very  simple:  All  of  these  thousands  of  people  who 
stood  in  line  ride  in  motor  cars  and  therefore  are  harassed  by  the  daily  task  of 


General  Motors 


getting  from  one  place  to  another,  by  the  nuisances  of  intersectional  jams, 
narrow,  congested  bottlenecks,  dangerous  night  driving,  annoying  police- 
men's whistles,  honking  horns,  blinking  traffic  lights,  confusing  highway 
signs,  and  irritating  traffic  regulations;  they  are  appalled  by  the  daily  toll  of 
highway  accidents  and  deaths ;  and  they  are  eager  to  find  a  sensible  way  out  of 
this  planless,  suicidal  mess.  The  Futurama  gave  them  a  dramatic  and  graphic 
solution  to  a  problem  which  they  all  faced. 

Masses  of  people  can  never  find  a  solution  to  a  problem  until  they  are  shown 
the  way.  Each  unit  of  the  mass  may  have  a  knowledge  of  the  problem,  and 
each  may  have  his  own  solution,  but  until  mass  opinion  is  crystallized,  brought 
into  focus  and  made  articulate,  it  amounts  to  nothing  but  vague  grumbling. 
One  of  the  best  ways  to  make  a  solution  understandable  to  everybody  is  to 
make  it  visual,  to  dramatize  it.  The  Futurama  did  just  this:  it  was  a  visual 
dramatization  of  a  solution  to  the  complex  tangle  of  American  roadways. 

As  all  those  who  saw  it  know,  the  Futurama  is  a  large-scale  model  represent- 
ing almost  every  type  of  terrain  in  America  and  illustrating  how  a  motorway 
system  may  be  laid  down  over  the  entire  country — across  mountains,  over  rivers 
and  lakes,  through  cities  and  past  towns — never  deviating  from  a  direct  course 
and  always  adhering  to  the  four  basic  principles  of  highway  design:  safety, 
comfort,  speed  and  economy.  The  motorways  which  stretch  across  the  model 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

ms^V^<  ••><.:•  -*y./  •:-K^vs^»Pr*«--c?cS5 


Futurama   Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 



are  exact  replicas,  in  small  scale,  of  motorways  which  may  be  built  in  America 
in  the  near  future.  They  are  designed  to  make  automobile  collisions  impossible 
and  to  eliminate  completely  traffic  congestion.  Particular  features  of  the 
motorways  may  perhaps  be  improved  on,  details  of  future  road  construction 
and  engineering  may  differ,  but  the  design  of  these  motorways  has  been  care- 
fully and  thoughtfully  worked  out  and  is  suggestive  of  probable  future 

Much  of  the  initial  appeal  of  the  Futurama  was  due  to  its  imaginative  qual- 
ity. But  the  reason  that  its  popularity  never  diminished  was  that  its  boldness 
was  based  on  soundness.  The  plan  it  presented  appealed  to  the  practical 
engineer  as  much  as  to  the  idle  day-dreamer.  The  motorways  which  it  featured 
were  not  only  desirable,  but  practical. 

As  each  spectator  rode  around  the  model  in  his  comfortable,  upholstered 
armchair,  he  listened  to  a  description  of  it  in  a  voice  which  came  from  a  small 
speaker  built  into  the  back  of  the  chair.  This  recorded  description  synchro- 
nized with  the  movement  of  the  chairs  and  explained  the  main  features  of 
what  was  passing  before  the  spectator's  eyes.  It  directed  his  attention  to  the 
great  arterial  highways  which  were  segregated  into  different  speed  lanes  and 
which  looked  so  different  from  the  roads  of  today.  It  pointed  out  the  over- 
passes, high-speed  intersections  and  wide  bridges  over  which  tear-drop  motor 
cars  whisked  by  at  a  hundred  miles  an  hour.  It  commented  in  passing  on  the 
surrounding  scenery,  the  planned  cities,  decentralized  communities  and  ex- 
perimental farms.  But  it  did  not  describe  in  detail  how  any  of  this  was  to  be 
accomplished.  It  did  not  explain  how  the  highway  system  worked.  It  could 
not  dwell  at  length  on  any  specific  points  of  interest  because  of  the  short 
time  available. 

There  was  much  more  to  see,  and  no  time  to  see  it.  There  was  much  more  to 
explain,  and  no  time  to  explain  it.  Millions  of  people,  by  waiting  patiently  for 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 



their  turn  in  the  chairs,  demonstrated  that  the  prospects  of  America's  future 
concern  them.  They  showed  that  the  problems  of  transportation  vitally  inter- 
est them.  But  there  was  no  time  to  satisfy  that  interest  fully.  They  saw  the 
world  of  tomorrow  lying  there  invitingly  before  them — a  world  that  looked 
like  Utopia  and  that  did  not  seem  to  have  a  very  close  relation  to  the  world 
they  knew.  But  they  weren't  let  in  on  the  secret  of  how  it  had  developed; 
they  weren't  told  how  it  worked. 

This  book  will  take  you  backstage.  It  will  answer  the  many  questions  which 
the  Futurama  left  unanswered.  The  Futurama  and  this  book  are  two  different 
treatments  of  the  same  material.  The  book  is  a  description  of  the  exhibit,  just 
as  the  exhibit  is  an  illustration  of  this  text.  And  the  book  will  do  two  things 
which  the  Futurama  could  not  do.  First,  it  will  describe  the  premises,  based  on 
American  experience,  on  which  such  a  future  transportation  system  is  built; 
and  second,  it  will  suggest  the  consequences,  technical  and  economic  and  so- 
cial, which  will  result  from  such  a  future  transportation  system.  Starting 
from  the  facts  of  congestion,  confusion,  waste  and  accidents,  we  have  gone 
through  analysis  and  blueprints  until  we  have  come  out  on  the  other  side  with 
an  over-all  plan.  We  have  come  out  with  transcontinental  roads  built  for  a 
maximum  of  one  hundred  and  a  minimum  of  fifty  miles  an  hour.  We  have 
come  out  with  cars  that  are  automatically  controlled,  which  can  be  driven 
safely  even  with  the  driver's  hands  off  the  wheel.  We  have  discovered  that 
people  could  be  driving  from  San  Francisco  to  New  York  in  twenty-four 
hours  if  roads  were  properly  designed.  Peering  through  the  haze  of  the  present 
toward  1960  is  a  great  adventure.  It  is  an  adventure  so  broad  in  its  attack  and 
so  far-reaching  in  its  consequences  that  there  is  no  reason  why  each  reader, 
layman  as  well  as  expert,  should  not  repeat  it  now  for  himself  and  discover 
where  it  leads. 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


In  designing  the  Futurama,  we  reproduced  actual  sections  of  the  country — 
Wyoming,  Pennsylvania,  California,  Missouri,  New  York,  Idaho,  Virginia 
— combining  them  into  a  continuous  terrain.  We  used  actual  American  cities 
— St.  Louis,  Council  Bluffs,  Reading,  New  Bedford,  Concord,  Rutland, 
Omaha,  Colorado  Springs — projecting  them  twenty  years  ahead.  And  we  of 
course  took  already  existing  highways  into  account,  making  use  of  their  most 
advanced  features  and,  at  the  same  time,  projecting  them  also  twenty  years 

There  are  many  highways  which  strike  us  today  as  excellent — among 
others,  the  Merritt  Parkway  in  Connecticut,  the  boulevard  through  the  Great 
Smokies  in  the  Southeast,  the  highway  over  the  Santa  Cruz  Mountains  in 
California,  and  New  York  City's  great  system  of  approaches  and  peripheral 


highways.  In  comparison  with  what  we  have  had  in  the  past,  these  are  fine 
roads,  representing  a  tremendous  advance  over  the  roads  of  yesterday.  But  the 
roads  of  tomorrow  will  represent  an  equally  great  advance  over  those  of  the 
present,  and  it  is  toward  this  future  development  that  the  Futurama  pointed 
the  way. 

The  Motorway  System  as  visualized  in  the  Futurama  and  described  in  this 
book  has  been  arbitrarily  dated  ahead  to  1960 — twenty  years  from  now.  But 
it  could  be  built  today.  It  is  not  too  large  a  job  for  a  generation  which  has 
replaced  the  plodding  horse  and  buggy  with  the  swift-moving  automobile, 
which  has  grown  wings  and  spanned  the  world  with  them,  which  has  built 
skyscrapers  a  thousand  feet  high.  Modern  engineering  is  capable  of  mag- 
nificent accomplishments. 

Already  the  automobile  has  done  great  things  for  people.  It  has  taken  man 
out  beyond  the  small  confines  of  the  world  in  which  he  used  to  live.  Distant 
communities  have  been  brought  closer  together.  Throughout  all  recorded 
history,  man  has  made  repeated  efforts  to  reach  out  farther  and  to  communi- 
cate with  other  men  more  easily  and  quickly,  and  these  efforts  have  reached 
the  climax  of  their  success  in  the  twentieth  century.  This  increasing  freedom 
of  movement  makes  possible  a  magnificently  full,  rich  life  for  the  people  of 
our  time.  A  free-flowing  movement  of  people  and  goods  across  our  nation  is  a 
requirement  of  modern  living  and  prosperity. 

People  who  have  achieved  a  partial  success  are  often  inclined  to  sit  back 
self-satisfied  and  blind  themselves  to  the  fact  that  the  success  is  only  partial. 
Because  we  today  move  more  freely 
than  our  ancestors,  we  have  a  tendency 
to  overlook  the  fact  that  we  should  be 
able  to  move  ten  times  more  freely.  We 
are  satisfied  with  the  mere  possession  of 


Ewing  Gall< 

the  automobile,  and  fail  to  make  use  of  its  full  potentialities.  Many  of  us  do 
not  realize  that  our  cars  can  reliably  do  up  to  eighty-five  miles  an  hour,  but 
that  the  average  speed  of  motor  traffic  in  the  United  States  is  twenty  miles 
an  hour;  that  although  our  cars  have  been  designed  for  efficiency  and  econ- 
omy, the  loss  due  to  traffic  congestion  in  New  York  City  alone  is  a  million 
dollars  a  day;  that  although  our  cars  have  been  designed  for  safety,  there  is  a 
death  toll  on  American  roads  today  of  almost  four  lives  every  hour,  ninety 
every  single  day,  2,700  a  month,  and  32,400  a  year!  Until  recently,  we  have 
been  told  that  the  cure  for  these  paradoxes  lies  in  hit-or-miss,  spasmodic  road 
"improvements"  and  catchy  safety  slogans.  But  we  are  due  to  open  our  eyes 
any  day  now,  and  demand  a  comprehensive,  basic  solution  to  a  comprehensive, 
basic  problem. 

If  a  word-association  psychologist  asked  you  to  speak  the  first  word  that 
comes  into  your  head  after  you  hear  the  word  "traffic,"  you  would  probably 
answer,  not  "flow"  or  "movement,"  but  "congestion."  You  would  get  a  men- 
tal picture  of  the  crowded  approach  to  the  Eads  Bridge  in  St.  Louis  over  the 
Mississippi,  or  of  cars  jammed  bumper  to  bumper  at  the  intersection  of  State 
and  Madison  in  Chicago,  or  perhaps  just  of  a  suburban  crossroad  and  the 
accident  that  occurred  there  last  Saturday  after  the  Country  Club  dance.  The 
word  "traffic"  is  usually  taken  to  mean  "too  many  cars."  But,  actually,  traffic 
is  simply  the  flow  of  cars  along  a  road,  and  roads  are  supposed  to  be  built  to 
accommodate  that  traffic.  When  traffic  is  congested,  the  answer  is  not  that 
there  are  too  many  cars,  but  that  the  roads  have  not  been  designed  to  perform 

Ewinq  Galloway 


Margaret  Bourke-White 

their  function  properly.  Their  construction  and  design  are  inefficient. 
The  real  trouble  with  American  highways  is  the  simple  fact  that  they  are 
not  designed  for  the  traffic  they  bear.  The  automobile  has  advanced  in  much 
greater  strides  than  have  roads.  It  has  attained  a  far  greater  point  of  perfec- 
tion. Automobiles  are  in  no  way  responsible  for  our  traffic  problem.  The 


entire  responsibility  lies  in  the  faulty  roads,  which  are  behind  the  times. 

When  the  horse  was  discarded,  the  winding  roads  over  which  he  joggled 
were  not  discarded  with  him.  The  automobile  inherited  them.  Some  of  them 
have  been  "improved"  from  time  to  time,  but  their  basic  features  have  remained 
unchanged.  The  result  of  pushing  motor  cars  out  over  these  old  roads  was  at 
first  simply  a  mild  havoc  and  runaway  horses,  but  later,  the  Traffic  Problem. 
Today  we  are  still  rebuilding  old  roads  that  were  constructed  for  another 
vehicle,  instead  of  starting  to  build  special  roads  for  the  special  needs  of  the 

This  simple  fact  is  the  key  to  the  whole  present-day  traffic  problem. 

A  brief  glance  at  the  history  of  road  building  in  this  country  will  make 
clear  how  vitally  this  anachronism  has  affected  the  development  of  American 
automotive  transportation. 



N  LAYING  out  roads,  certain  basic  principles  are  always  followed.  From  the 
beginning  of  time,  whenever  people  have  tried  to  get  from  one  place  to  an- 
other, they  have  kept  these  same  basic  aims  in  mind.  The  first  is  their  desire 
for  self-preservation;  the  second  is  their  desire  for  a  pleasant  trip;  the  third  is 
their  desire  to  reach  their  goal  quickly;  and  the  fourth  is  their  desire  to  spend 
as  little  money  and  effort  on  the  way  as  possible. 

Now,  for  self-preservation,  read  safety;  for  a  convenient  and  pleasant  trip, 
read  comfort;  for  a  quick  arrival,  read  speed;  and  for  a  saving  of  expense  and 
effort,  read  economy;  and  you  have  the  four  main  principles  which  guide— 
or  should  guide — the  modern  road  builder. 

Although  these  aims  or  principles  are  very  specific,  their  application  with 
reference  to  road  development  varies  with  enormous  latitude.  A  bird  flying 
from  one  point  to  another,  never  swerving  to  right  or  left,  is  following  the 
principles  of  safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy  as  he  sees  them.  On  the  other 
hand,  a  man  in  a  forest,  moving  slowly,  twisting  first  this  way  then  that  way, 
avoiding  dangerous  ledges  and  carefully  going  out  of  his  way  to  pass  around 









Portland  Cement  Assn. 

obstacles,  is  applying  the  same  principles  as  ne  sees  them.  Several  factors  enter 
into  the  situation,  requiring,  if  not  modification  of  the  principles,  at  least  dif- 
ferent methods  of  carrying  them  out.  The  rate  at  which  one  is  capable  of  mov- 
ing, the  characteristics  of  the  terrain  over  which  one  must  travel,  and  the 
purpose  of  the  journey  are  some  of  these  modifying  factors. 

A  mountain  goat,  marvelously  sure-footed,  nonchalantly  travels  along  the 
narrow  edge  of  precipitous  cliffs  which  a  man  must  avoid.  A  cow,  fat  and 
lazy,  meanders  zigzag  across  a  field  which  another  animal  would  traverse  in 
half  the  time.  A  sailboat  tacks  first  north,  then  south,  to  reach  a  destination 
toward  which  a  steamship  can  aim  directly.  Different  types  of  vehicles  require 
different  types  of  routes,  in  order  to  achieve  the  same  ends.  What  is  comfort- 
able in  a  slow  vehicle  may  well  be  uncomfortable  at  a  fast  pace;  similarly,  a 
speed  which  is  perfectly  safe  in  one  vehicle  might  be  disastrous  in  another. 

It  follows  from  this  that  each  type  of  vehicle  should  have  its  own  spe- 
cifically designed  path.  The  cow  has  its  gently  winding  path,  the  wagon  its 
wider,  straighter  road,  the  train  its  railroad  track,  the  ship  its  sea  lane,  the 
barge  its  canal,  the  airplane  its  beacon  lanes.  Sometimes  it  happens  that  a  route 
which  was  originally  intended  for  one  purpose  can  be  adapted  to  another,  but 
generally  the  changes  which  are  made  in  the  route  to  facilitate  this  adaptation 
end  by  altering  it  beyond  recognition.  It  is  hard  to  realize,  for  example,  that 
many  of  America's  most  important  automobile  roads  originated  as  animal 

When  the  first  white  settlers  moved  in  to  open  up  the  Middle  West,  they 
did  not  have  to  build  for  themselves  the  roads  which  carried  them  out  there. 
They  used  routes  already  there:  Indian  paths  and  buffalo  trails.  The  American 
bison,  heavy  yet  fleet  of  foot,  tough  and  hard-traveling,  had  torn  wide  paths 
east  and  west,  north  and  south,  along  the  high  ground  linking  the  best  grazing 
ranges  and  water  holes.  The  bison  migrated  freely,  his  range  extending  from 


the  salt  licks  of  Kentucky  westward  to  the  Rockies, 
and  from  the  Cariboo  Mountains  at  the  northern  end 
of  Alberta,  Canada,  southward  into  Texas.  The  Vin- 
cennes  Road,  which  runs  slantwise  through  Chicago 
today,  was  originally  tramped  out  by  herds  of  bison 
bound  west  from  Illinois  to  the  prairies.  The  three 
great  overland  routes  from  the  eastern  part  of  the 
country  to  the  Central  West  were  also  stamped  out 
originally  by  bison:  one,  the  route  through  Central 
New  York  which  was  later  followed  by  the  Erie  Canal; 
two,  the  route  through  Southwestern  Pennsylvania 
from  the  Potomac  to  Upper  Ohio ;  and  three,  the  great 
Cumberland  Gap  route  into  Kentucky.  All  over  the 
world,  in  fact,  man  has  taken  over  the  routes  of  animals. 
The  buffalo  and  Indian  trails  in  America  were  use- 
ful and  comfortable  because  both  animal  herd  and 
native  tribe  usually  sought  out  easy  grades  and  direct 
courses.  They  laid  their  roads  along  high  land,  since 

forests  there  Were  thinner  and  winds  tended  to  Sweep 

Copyright,  Haynes,   Inc. 

the  high  trails  clear  of  leaves  in  fall  and  of  snow  in     TRANSCONTINENTAL  ROAD  ENGINEERS 

winter.  All  primitive  races  travel  close  to  the  ridges, 

relying  on  the  safety  of  the  higher  ground.  This  custom,  in  fact,  is  the  origin 

of  the  term  highway. 

The  buffalo  is  not  the  only  animal  whose  roads  have  been  followed  through 
the  centuries.  While  the  cow  is  not  generally  thought  of  as  a  traffic  expert,  in 
her  own  way  she  too  has  been  an  outstanding  highway  engineer.  From  day  to 
day  the  path  that  the  cow  follows  from  barn  to  pasture  changes  little.  Once  a 
path  has  been  broken,  the  cow  follows  it  year  in  and  year  out  just  because  it  is 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

there.  Man  of  course  does  the  same  thing,  through 
force  of  habit  and  reliance  on  precedent.  The  origin  of 
many  roads  from  farm  to  farm  and  from  farm  to  vil- 
lage occurred  in  somewhat  the  following  way.  The 
cow  path  was  never  the  shortest  distance  between  two 
points,  but  it  had  the  virtue  of  being  a  track  and  a 
well-worn  one.  So  the  farmer  himself  followed  it  down 
to  his  neighbor's  house,  and  it  soon  developed  into  a 
footpath.  Then,  by  clipping  shrubbery  and  branches 
along  its  sides,  he  was  able  to  ride  his  horse  through  it. 
One  day  he  managed  it  with  a  horse  and  cart;  from 
that  it  became  a  wagon  road.  It  served  him  well.  The 
road  gradually  extended  from  door  to  door  toward  the 
town's  church,  and  in  a  generation  it  became  Main 
Street.  So  it  is  that  the  cow  laid  out  New  York's  Wall 
Street  district  years  ago,  and,  farther  north,  Boston's 
Haymarket  Square.  As  paths  grew  into  wagon  roads, 
this  did  not  mean  that  they  were  rebuilt  to  take  care 
of  wheeled  traffic.  It  simply  meant  that  a  certain 
number  of  wagoners  had  managed  somehow  to  scrape 
their  way  through  them. 

Three  centuries  were  given  in  America  to  this  kind 
of  gradual  road  development.  Animal  trails  slowly  be- 
came pack-horse  routes.  By  1750  three  roads  in  Penn- 
sylvania and  New  York  were  reported  to  be  worn  so 
broad  that  two  pack-horses  could  meet  and  pass  with- 
out danger  to  their  loads.  That  was  progress!  Then  the 
great  wagon  known  as  Conestoga  made  its  appearance. 




And  when  it  started  bumping  over  the  Alleghenies,  the  pack-horse  trail  re- 
ceived a  diploma  and  became  a  road. 

Again,  that  did  not  mean  that  the  old  route  was  changed.  It  had  merely 
been  cleared;  tree-stumps  and  rocks  still  clogged  it.  To  begin  with,  people 
then  did  not  know  how  to  construct  a  road  for  wheeled  traffic.  Nor  did  they 
have  the  capital  or  the  organization  to  do  the  job.  The  stagecoach  had  been 
in  use  for  fifty  years  before  any  real  improvement  in  American  roads  was  made. 


Instead  of  building  new  roads,  the  old  ones  were  patched  and  widened  here 
and  there  in  their  worst  spots,  and  a  few  of  them  were  surfaced.  But  whatever 
minor  changes  were  effected,  the  basic  technique  of  laying  out  the  road  re- 
mained the  same:  rutty  tracks  were  informally  widened  by  hacking  away 
enough  underbrush  to  give  a  right  of  way.  This  method  had  inherent  difficul- 
ties, of  course.  When  larger  and  heavier  vehicles  were  introduced  and  sent 
over  routes  designed  for  foot-traveler  or  animal,  the  original  advantages  of 
the  routes  were  lost.  The  history  of  the  Boston  Post  Road  illustrates  this.  This 
road,  which  was  a  major  military  channel  during  the  Revolutionary  War,  to- 


Portland  Cement  Assn. 

day  is  still  the  main  artery  between  Boston  and  New  York.  Throughout  the 
decades — first  for  horses,  then  for  wagons,  then  for  stagecoaches,  then  for  fast 
carriages,  and  finally  for  automobiles  and  buses — it  has  been  widened  and 
rewidened  and  paved  and  repaved.  But  its  development  has  always  lagged 
behind  the  development  of  the  vehicle,  so  that  it  has  never  been  able  to  serve 
its  purpose  efficiently.  When  Sarah  Kemble  Knight  rode  from  Boston  to  New 
York  on  it  in  1704,  it  was  so  narrow  that  branches  brushed  her  from  both 
sides,  and  it  was  so  difficult  to  traverse  that  it  took  her  eight  days  to  make  the 
trip.  Today,  when  20,000  cars  a  day  pass  over  it,  they  pile  up  in  jams  at  its 
narrow  bridgeheads,  its  frequent  intersections  and  its  sharp  turns. 

Early  in  the  nineteenth  century,  people  decided  to  do  something  decisive 
about  getting  better  roads.  A  speculative  fever  of  private  road  building 
hit  the  nation.  In  the  State  of  New  York  alone  sixty-seven  companies  sprang 
up,  to  build  toll  roads  or  turnpikes.  A  paved  turnpike  was  laid  down  from 

Ewlng  Galloway 


Philadelphia  to  Lancaster,  at  a  cost  of  half  a  million  dollars.  The  Federal 
Government  stepped  in  and  put  up  money  for  the  Cumberland  Road,  a 
national  turnpike  that  tied  the  Potomac  to  the  heart  of  the  West.  Public 
enthusiasm  ran  high.  Traffic  increased. 

The  Cumberland  Turnpike  was  the  culmination  of  the  movement.  And  it 
had  a  curious  result.  In  the  push  to  the  West,  New  York  State  had  been  left 
behind.  Accordingly,  in  order  to  get  a  foothold  for  trade,  it  set  about  building 
the  Erie  Canal.  The  Canal  was  a  vast  success.  It  beat  the  turnpikes  at  their  own 
game.  So  the  fever  for  building  roads  subsided  almost  as  quickly  as  it  had  risen, 
and  digging  canals  became  the  new  national  rage.  The  canal  was  popular  be- 
cause it  was  efficient.  And  it  was  efficient  because  it  was  a  right  of  way  built 
specifically  for  one  means  of  transit,  rather  than  a  makeshift,  second-hand 

The  next  big  step  in  American  transportation  came  with  the  introduction 


Portland  Cement  Assn. 

.  ^^ 


of  an  entirely  new  vehicle:  the  locomotive.  This  proved  to  be  efficient  and 
popular  also,  and  for  the  same  reason:  its  builders  estimated  the  needs  and 
capacities  of  the  new  vehicle  and  designed  a  right  of  way  for  it  accordingly. 
The  first  right  of  way  for  an  American  train  was  laid  out  on  a  dirt  road 
because  the  train  was  horse-pulled.  But  very  soon  the  railroad  acquired  a 
special  track  adapted  to  its  own  functions  and  its  own  speed.  And  the  ultimate 
result  of  this  intelligent  approach  to  the  problem  is  the  safe,  efficient  and  unin- 
terrupted railroad  travel  of  the  present  day.  Not  that  this  result  was  achieved 
immediately;  haste  in  construction  often  made  for  waste  and  mismanagement. 
It  took  about  fifty  years  for  the  railroads  to  overcome  the  first  missteps  of 
inefficiency  and  planlessness.  But  the  fact  remains  that  their  basic  technical 
approach  was  sound.  The  history  of  American  railroads  contains  many  valu- 
able lessons  for  highway  engineers. 

Then,  just  before  1900,  another  new  vehicle  appeared.  Along  the  Pumpkin- 
ville  Pike  in  Indiana  and  similar  horse  roads  in  Massachusetts,  Elwood  Haynes 
and  Charles  Duryea  were  experimenting  with  the  first  ' 'horseless  carriages." 
These  "gasoline  buggies"  did  not  look  very  promising  at  first,  and  were  not 
taken  very  seriously.  To  say  that  the  country  did  not  recognize  the  auto  for 
what  it  was  is  to  understate  the  case.  The  country  recognized  the  auto  as  a 
rattling  piece  of  machinery  that  could  be  counted  on  to  break  down  every 






i/;  ^ 


'  •--  *''       ft?- 


•%•*»  4*J 






Southern  Pacific  Railroad  (Sturtevant-Stover) 


three  or  four  miles.  Nobody  was  going  to  build  a  new  route  for  that.  A  special 
track  had  been  built  for  the  locomotive,  but  what  had  been  good  enough  for 
the  automobile's  grandfather  was  considered  good  enough  for  it. 

No  one  seemed  to  realize  that  a  vehicle  was  developing  which  would  revolu- 
tionize not  only  all  transportation,  but  life  in  general.  First  of  all,  mechanical 
transportation  was  now  for  the  first  time  being  placed  at  the  disposal  of  the 
individual  to  be  used  whenever  he  desired,  whereas  before  that  time  all  me- 
chanical transportation  had  been  designed  for  masses  of  people  only.  Secondly, 
the  individual  driver  was  now  going  to  be  able  to  travel  two  or  three  times  as 
fast  as  he  had  ever  traveled  before. 



All  that  three  centuries  of  Americans  had  done  in  laying  out,  widening  and 
brushing  up  roads  suddenly  became  obsolete.  Before  this  time,  travelers  had 
moved  so  slowly  that  it  never  really  mattered  whether  their  road  was  straight 
or  not.  No  man  or  animal  had  ever  struck  directly  across  a  range  of  mountains 
or  a  river  when  he  could  manage  to  travel  around  it.  In  the  horse-and-buggy 
era,  no  great  effort  was  ever  made  by  road  builders  to  alter  or  modify  the 
natural  character  of  terrain  to  reduce  the  distance  between  two  points,  or  to 
smooth  out  large  bumps  and  recesses.  But  this  new  vehicle  was  capable  of  high 
speed.  In  fact,  its  entire  validity  rested  on  its  claim  of  speed.  Curves  and 
bumps  that  had  never  bothered  the  buggy  forced  the  car  to  slow  down. 
Roundabout  routes  whose  delays  had  never  mattered  now  harmed  the  straight- 
away effectiveness  of  the  car.  But  this  was  not  understood.  The  new  car  was 
pushed  out  on  the  old  roads. 

Take,  as  an  illustration,  the  history  of  one  of  the  world's  most  heavily 
traveled  stretches  of  road,  the  sixteen-mile  Detroit-Pontiac  Highway.  It  was 
in  1 8 1 7  that  its  right  of  way  was  first  laid  down,  consisting  of  great  logs  rolled 
close  together  and  filled  in  with  clay  and  sand.  By  mid-century  it  had  become 
a  plank  toll  road  for  horses  and  buggies.  In  1 9 1 6  it  was  rebuilt  for  the  auto- 
mobile— that  is  to  say,  it  was  paved.  But  its  width  remained  the  same  as  it  had 
been  in  1817 — a  mere  sixteen  feet.  Five  years  later  an  observer  reported 
"forty-three  automobiles  stalled  on  Sunday  afternoon  on  a  stretch  of  the  road 
badly  shouldered  by  dirt  and  stones  and  with  a  menacing  ditch  at  the  side." 
By  1923  traffic  on  it  had  bogged  down  almost  entirely.  Then  the  Governor  of 
Michigan  started  a  piecemeal  program  of  widening  it  to  200  feet.  By  1938, 
50,000  people  used  it  every  day  with  what  at  long  last  became  a  high  rate  of 
safety — its  accident-death  rate  being  less  than  one-third  that  of  the  nation  as 
a  whole.  Ever  since  1817,  the  State  of  Michigan  had  meant  well.  When  it  was 
time  for  teams  and  buggies,  it  built  a  road  for  teams  and  buggies.  When  it  was 


time  for  a  railroad,  it  built  a  railroad  bed.  But  when  it  was  time  for  motor 
cars,  it  patched  the  road  it  had  already  built  for  another  vehicle.  It  passed  laws, 
hired  policemen  and  set  up  traffic  lights,  but  it  didn't  build  a  proper  road  for 
the  automobile.  What  happened  here,  as  well  as  all  over  the  country  under 
similar  circumstances,  was  that  the  precept  of  "economy"  overshadowed  those 
of  safety,  comfort  and  speed.  Three  principles  were  sacrificed  for  one.  But 
people  found  that  that  didn't  work. 

Almost  at  the  very  start  of  the  automobile  era,  however,  there  was  one  inter- 
esting exception  to  this  type  of  highway  treatment.  In  1906,  William  K.  Van- 
derbilt  II  and  some  cronies  who  wanted  to  motor  to  their  Long  Island  homes  at 
forty  miles  an  hour  without  scaring  horses  and  infuriating  the  public,  ac- 
quired a  fifty-mile  strip  of  land  100  feet  wide  down  the  island  from  Flushing 
to  Lake  Ronkonkoma.  On  it  they  built  a  two-lane  wriggling  ribbon  of  con- 
crete and  macadam,  on  which  no  carriages  were  allowed.  Because  they  did  not 
wish  to  slow  down  every  few  hundred  yards  for  a  crossroad,  they  bridged 
every  intersection — which  was  a  brand-new  idea.  A  speed-limitless  play- 
ground for  millionaires  was  only  part  of  this  conception.  The  important  thing 
about  this  road  was  its  recognition  of  the  fact  that  the  automobile,  in  order  to 
function  at  its  best,  needs  a  right  of  way  as  free  from  obstacles  as  a  railroad 

The  career  of  this  Long  Island  Motor  Parkway  is  interesting.  Built  at  a  cost 
of  about  $7,000,000  ($140,000  per  mile) ,  its  original  toll  charge  of  one  dol- 
lar per  trip  in  each  direction  could  not  keep  it  from  being  a  financial  failure. 
Non-millionaire  drivers,  although  enjoying  the  route  as  being  safe  and  com- 
fortable and  speedy,  were  aware  that  instead  of  being  economical  it  doubled 
their  driving  costs  over  those  forty  miles.  In  1937  the  road  had  to  be  aban- 
doned. In  this  way,  the  lesson  that  a  road  must  follow  all  four  principles  of 
safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy  indivisibly  was  again  pointed  out.  And  at 


the  same  time  it  taught  another  lesson:  that  unless  an  idea  is 
thought  through  in  all  particulars,  it  soon  grows  obsolete.  Private 
enterprise  had  spent  a  lot  of  money  on  this  road,  and  proved  the 
point  that  other  existing  roads  were  not  properly  designed  for 
the  motor  car.  When  it  was  first  built,  the  Long  Island  Motor 
Parkway  was  the  country's  most  advanced  road.  But  neverthe- 
less, even  its  designers  did  not  fully  appreciate  the  possibilities  of 
the  automobile.  Curves  on  the  Parkway  were  too  sharp,  there 
were  too  many  of  them,  the  road  was  too  rolling,  and  it  was 
too  narrow. 

The  gentlemen  who  built  the  Parkway  might  have  had  more 
success  if  they  had  listened  to  the  wise  advice  of  W.  W.  Crosby, 
who  urged  in  1903  that,  before  building  a  road,  a  traffic  census 
should  be  taken  to  determine  in  advance  how  much  traffic  the 
road  would  be  required  to  carry.  Again  in  1914,  Engineer  S. 
Whinery  urged  that  roads  should  be  considered  in  the  light  of 
traffic  conditions  twenty  years  in  the  future.  This  advice  also 
went  unheard.  The  nation's  roads  still  weren't  designed  for  the  future  at  all. 
They  were  improved  piecemeal  to  answer  immediate  needs. 

This  failure  to  heed  advice  led  the  country  to  the  highway  crisis  of  1924, 
when  the  number  of  cars  on  the  road  reached  over  seventeen  and  a  half  million 
and  motorists  came  earnestly  face  to  face  with  the  traffic  menace.  Progressive 
young  engineers  wanted  to  relieve  congestion  by  replanning  the  whole  road 
system,  but  public  and  officials  decided  differently.  They  widened  the  old 
roads.  They  set  low  speed  limits  on  them.  They  put  up  thousands  of  traffic 
lights.  The  old  ideals  of  safety,  speed,  comfort  and  economy  were  now  being 
interpreted  to  read  "go  slow."  It  was  a  far  cry  from  the  day  when  Mr.  Vander- 
bilt  had  interpreted  them  to  mean  "go  fast." 






While  the  science  of  road  design  was  thus  being  held  back,  the  technique  of 
policing  and  traffic  lights  was  going  forward.  In  the  early  nineteen  hundreds 
the  major  duties  required  of  traffic  officers  were  stopping  runaway  horses  and 
directing  parades.  As  the  automobile  began  to  crowd  existing  roads  and  no 
relief  in  the  sense  of  newly  designed  highways  was  in  sight,  the  policeman 
grew  into  a  major  highway  figure.  He  was  stationed  in  the  thick  of  traffic,  and 
began  to  require  assistants  to  unsnarl  the  tangled  cars.  He  resorted  to  signals, 
whistles,  hand  and  semaphore  devices.  In  1924  a  series  of  inventions  began 
dotting  the  country  with  various  systems  of  mechanical  traffic  regulation. 
Although  this  represented  a  contribution  to  safety,  it  violated  the  aims  of 
comfort,  economy  and  speed  because  it  was  hit-or-miss,  restrictive  rather  than 
corrective.  What  was  really  needed  was  a  properly  designed  highway  system 
that  would  make  a  maze  of  traffic  lights  unnecessary. 

Today,  with  a  tremendously  multiplied  volume  of  traffic,  there  is  an  even 
greater  need  for  such  a  highway  system.  The  millions  of  square  miles  that 
make  up  this  country's  land,  all  of  its  industries,  its  social  development,  are  all 
completely  dependent  on  the  flow  of  its  traffic — the  life-blood  of  the  nation. 
The  medium  through  which  this  national  life-blood  is  pumped  should  be  an 
efficient  circulatory  system  of  arteries  and  veins,  instead  of  three  million  miles 
of  haphazardly  improved  routes  laid  out  for  the  different  needs  of  gold-seekers 


Ewing  Galloway 

in  California,  of  missionaries  in  the  South- 
west, fur  traders  and  explorers  in  the  North- 
west, covered- wagon  pioneers  in  the  Great 
Plains,  buffaloes  in  the  Middle  West  and 
Indians  in  New  England.  Our  highway  "sys- 
tem" affects  the  life  of  each  hamlet,  city  and 
farm  in  the  United  States,  and  yet  it  is  still 
regarded  as  a  local  matter,  to  be  tinkered 
with  from  time  to  time  by  state,  county  and 
municipality,  as  if  the  blood-stream  came  to 
a  stop  at  the  boundary  line. 

It  took  years  to  get  the  automobile  out  of 
the  horseless-carriage  stage.  The  inevitable 
conclusion  is  that  highways  will  have  to  go 

through  the  same  upheaval — sooner  or  later.  And  it  can  be  done  more  safely, 
comfortably  and  economically  if  it  is  done  soon.  But  what  has  been  done  so 
far  on  the  highway,  instead  of  the  required  upheaval,  is  a  slow  process  of 
adaptation  which  doesn't  work.  Mr.  R.  E.  Toms,  Chief  of  the  Division  of 
Design  of  the  Federal  Bureau  of  Public  Roads,  once  said  that  twenty  years 
from  now  motoring  will  still  not  be  "radically  different"  from  what  it  is 
today,  that  "the  familiar  two-lane  highway  is  here  to  stay,"  and  that  "you 
won't  see  any  sweeping  changes  in  highway  design  for  years  to  come."  He  says 
this  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  another  official  in  the  same  Bureau,  Mr.  H.  S.  Fair- 
bank,  recently  admitted  that  "no  single  section  of  our  nationwide  system  of 
interstate  highways  was  built  for  the  express  use  of  the  automobile."  Mr. 
Fair  bank  made  this  statement  in  1938,  when  there  were  30,000,000  cars  on 
the  road,  and  when  experts  were  estimating  that  the  next  twenty  years  would 
double  that  number.  He  said  this  ten  years  after  the  installation  of  the  first 


James  M.  Doolittle 




cloverleaf  intersection  in  the  country,  after  the  completion  of  many  "super- 
highways," "freeways,"  "skyways"  and  the  like,  with  all  their  improvements, 
and  still  he  was  able  honestly  to  say  that  our  highways  not  only  are  lagging, 
but  are  obsolete. 

Automobile  travel  is  less  efficient  in  this  respect  than  any  other  form  of 
travel.  Automobile  roads  are  the  only  transportation  routes  which  are  not 
systematically  planned  in  accordance  with  the  needs  of  the  vehicles  which  use 
them.  At  sea,  for  instance,  sea  lanes  are  planned  for  ships.  There  is  nothing 
haphazard  about  sea  traffic.  Guesswork  has  been  reduced  to  a  minimum.  The 
"Great  Circle  Track,"  the  shortest  steaming  route  between  Nantucket  Light 
and  Bishop's  Rock,  England,  has  been  carefully  divided  into  traffic  lanes.  Ships 
inform  each  other  by  radio  of  bearing  and  speed.  The  channels  and  aids  to 
navigation  have  been  designed  not  for  the  vessels  of  another  day,  but  for  the 
ships  that  use  them  now.  In  air  traffic,  too,  there  is  similar  planning.  Control 
towers  at  airports  eliminate  confusion  and  congestion.  Traffic  going  in  op- 
posite directions  is  kept  apart  by  regulations  allocating  it  to  separate  altitudes. 
The  result  of  this  planning  is  that  after  a  ship  has  cleared  its  harbor,  or  after  a 
plane  has  climbed  to  its  ceiling,  each  can  proceed  to  its  destination  along  the 
best  and  shortest  possible  route,  without  fear  of  interruption.  It  can  go  prac- 
tically in  a  straight  line.  Neither  ship  nor  plane  has  to  use  a  right  of  way 
inherited  from  some  ambling  predecessor. 

The  problems  of  the  railroad  are  more  closely  analogous  to  the  problems  of 
the  automobile  than  are  those  of  ship  or  plane,  because  both  car  and  train  have 
to  travel  over  land  and  therefore  are  subject  to  inevitable  interferences  and 
barriers.  But,  unlike  the  highway,  the  railroad  does  not  give  in  to  this  difficulty 
meekly.  In  places  where  financial  economy  might  seem  to 
call  for  a  roundabout  route,  elaborate  engineering  is  never- 
theless usually  decided  upon  to  cut  through  the  barrier  and 



give  a  direct  route,  producing  greater  economy  in  the  long  run.  The 
result  is  that  railroad  tracks  are  a  great  deal  straighter  than  highways, 
and  that  the  train,  although  inherently  a  clumsy  vehicle,  is  able  to 
travel  with  far  greater  comfort,  safety,  economy  and  speed  than  the  car. 

The  present-day  automobile  functions  in  competition  with  high- 
speed airplanes  and  locomotives.  If  there  is  to  be  any  justification  for 
its  existence,  it  must  match  them  in  efficiency.  To  do  this,  it  is  not 
enough  to  build  an  efficient  automobile — the  route  is  as  important  to 
the  vehicle  as  thread  is  to  a  needle.  An  automobile  may  be  capable  of 
high  speed,  but  when  its  road  prevents  it  from  using  that  speed  in 
safety  and  comfort — because  of  steep  grades,  sharp  curves,  dangerous 
intersections  and  aimless  winding — it  is  powerless.  Therefore,  before 
re-routing,  re-designing  or  improving  an  old  highway,  or  before  laying 
out  a  new  one,  the  route  should  always  be  examined  not  from  the  view- 
point of  tradition  or  habit,  but  with  a  conscious  regard  for  today's 
automobile  traffic.  In  the  days  of  the  horse  and  buggy,  economy  was 
never  thought  of  in  terms  of  time  saved  or  fuel  saved.  But  today  that 
economy  is  vital,  and  the  elimination  of  every  unnecessary  mile  or 
hazard  counts. 

A  properly  designed  highway  follows  the  most  direct  route  that  is 
available  from  one  point  to  another;  it  obeys  the  old  geometric  axiom 
that  a  straight  line  is  the  shortest  distance  between  two  points.  That  is 
a  simple,  perhaps  obvious,  statement,  and  yet  if  it  were  really  carried 
out  in  practice  it  would  completely  transform  our  highway  system.  It 
is  the  first  guiding  principle  that  should  be  considered  before  any  high- 



way  is  constructed,  before  the  first  plans  for  it  are  made. 

Chinese  road  builders  purposely  place  many  turns  and  twists  in  their  roads, 
because  they  believe  that  evil  spirits  fly  along  them  and  that  if  the  roads  are 
crooked  enough  the  evil  ones  may  miss  one  of  the  turns,  fly  off  and  get  lost. 
Do  American  road  builders  also  believe  in  evil  spirits?  Judging  from  their 
handiwork,  the  answer  is  yes.  Actually,  however,  the  explanation  is  of  course 
not  so  simple.  The  three  main  obstacles  which  stand  in  the  way  of  proper  high- 
way design  today  are:  first,  the  difficulties  of  acquiring  a  right  of  way;  second, 
the  pressures  and  pulls  that  influence  the  planning  of  the  route;  and  third,  the 
terrain  over  which  the  route  must  pass.  These  three  factors  have  acted  as 
stumbling  blocks  to  all  road  building  organizations,  whether  Federal,  state  or 
municipal.  But  must  they  be  stumbling  blocks  for  all  time  to  come? 

Fortunately,  against  the  piecemeal  school  of  highway  construction  which 
generally  prevails,  there  are  those  students  of  traffic  engineering  who  can  be 
referred  to  as  "forward-looking  men."  There  have  been  many  who  sensed 
that  all  was  not  well  with  the  method  of  American  highway  development. 
Perhaps  the  credit  for  the  first  piece  of  functional  traffic  engineering  in  Amer- 
ica should  go  to  Colonel  Stephen  H.  Long,  an  army  engineer,  loaned  to  the 
Baltimore  and  Ohio  Railroad.  This  man  designed  and  built  a  new  type  of  truss 
bridge  which  carried  the  Baltimore-to-Washington  roads  over  the  railway 
tracks.  Colonel  Long  named  the  overpass  in  honor  of  Andrew  Jackson,  then 
President  of  the  United  States.  The  date  was  1830.  It  was  the  first  attack  on 
the  grade  crossing. 

There  were  other  men  who  also  realized  what  had  to  be  done.  Jay  Downer, 
as  Engineer  and  Executive  Secretary  of  the  Bronx  Parkway  Commission,  de- 
veloped a  forty-foot,  four-lane  highway,  eliminated  grade  crossings,  and 
protected  the  route  from  side  encroachments.  Dr.  John  A.  Harriss  did  pioneer 
work  on  coordinated  traffic  light  systems.  Carl  Fisher  planned  the  Lincoln 


Highway.  Fritz  Malcher  advanced  the  "steadyflow"  system  of  traffic.  Robert 
Moses,  New  York's  Commissioner  of  Parks,  has  built  miles  of  parkways  and 
the  city's  Elevated  Express  Highway. 

Various  states,  too,  have  seen  the  alarm  signals.  New  Jersey  built  the  first 
cloverleaf  intersection.  Michigan  has  built  highways  on  the  "freeway"  prin- 
ciple. Pennsylvania  is  building  a  toll  highway  which  will  pierce  the  Alle- 
ghenies  with  nine  tunnels,  reach  heights  of  2,500  feet  at  grades  never  more 
than  3  per  cent,  and  maintain  a  constant  highspeed  flow  with  no  maximum 
speed  limit,  by  means  of  lane  segregation,  cloverleaf  s  and  long  sight-distances. 

In  short,  there  are  a  few  good  roads  in  America.  But  not  one  of  them  is  a 
patched-up  hand-me-down.  If  we  want  safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy 
in  travel  we  must  build  it  into  our  roads.  We  must  build  roads  that  are  liter- 
ally, not  figuratively,  motor  roads. 

There  is  one  famous  right  of  way  in  America  which  has  recently  been  built 
with  these  ends  in  view.  Its  builders  had  the  advantage  of  starting  from 
scratch,  without  the  heritage  of  stagecoaches  and  horses  and  buggies  to  estab- 
lish precedent,  and  the  success  of  their  venture  has  proved  the  desirability  of 
starting  from  scratch.  We 


are  speaking  of  the  Hud-      N.  Y.  c.  Park  DePt. 
son  River's  Holland  Tun- 

Actually,  there  are  two 
tunnels,  one  in  each  di- 
rection. Thus  traffic  mov- 
ing in  opposite  directions 
is  completely  segregated, 
visually  and  physically. 
There  is  no  cross  traffic. 

Even  cars  driving  in  the  same  direction  are  required  to  keep  in  separate  lanes, 
so  that  there  is  no  weaving  in  and  out  and  no  sideswiping.  Cars  are  not  al- 
lowed to  stop.  All  cars  must  drive  at  a  constant,  uniform  speed.  Each  car  must 
keep  a  standard  safe  distance  behind  the  car  in  front  of  it.  The  tunnels  are 
always  patrolled — not  by  roaming  traffic  cops,  but  by  officers  so  posted  that 
they  can  see  any  mishap  or  failure  and  report  it  at  once.  A  wrecking  crew  is 
always  on  call  to  remove  immediately  any  disabled  vehicle.  There  is  no  danger 
of  any  car  striking  a  pedestrian,  for  pedestrians  move  on  separated  elevated 
walkways.  The  margin  of  guesswork  has  been  reduced  by  thorough  scientific 
planning.  What  such  planning  means  comes  home  to  us  when  we  learn  that  in 
this  one-and-three-quarter-mile  tunnel  a  fatal  accident  has  occurred  only 
once  in  47,000,000  motor  vehicle  miles.  If  these  conditions  could  be  applied 
to  America's  entire  highway  system,  our  annual  automobile  death  toll,  instead 
of  32,000  lives,  would  be  less  than  6,000. 

The  case  of  the  four  gospels  of  safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy  seems 
to  be  one  of  "many  are  called,  yet  few  are  chosen."  No  one  has  dared  deny 
these  transportation  ideals.  Many  have  heeded  their  soundness.  But  relatively 
few  have  carried  them  out.  Since  these  words  get  more  lip  service  on  our 
highways  than  actual  observance,  one  cannot  do  better  than  repeat  and  rede- 
fine them,  hoping  to  drive  them  home. 


Port  of  New  York  Authority 

Port  of  New  York  Authority 


By  safety  is  meant  the  safe  guiding  of  the  individual  along  the  highway, 
not  necessarily  the  features  which  make  that  safety.  By  comfort  is  meant  a 
high  degree  of  ease — though  not  the  ease  which  is  represented  by  travel  in  a 
well-upholstered  seat  behind  a  soft-purring,  high-powered  engine  through  a 
jungle  of  roadhogs,  football  crowds,  bumps,  detours  and  glaring  headlights. 
Comfort  must  be  built  into  the  highway  as  well  as  into  the  automobile. 
Speed  is  of  course  the  time  it  takes  to  travel,  and  is  achieved  not  only  by 
building  fast-moving  automobiles  but  by  laying  out  highways  along  the  short- 
est possible  distance  between  two  points.  Economy  must  be  achieved  not  only 
in  the  financial  sense,  but  in  a  broader  scientific  sense:  the  economy  of  time 
and  energy  as  well  as  of  money.  And  finally,  each  of  these  four  principles,  in 
order  to  function  fully,  has  to  be  combined  with  the  other  three.  A  highway 
which  follows  one  of  these  goals  at  the  sacrifice  of  the  other  three  cannot  be 
an  efficient  motorway.  It  may  be  called  a  highway — for  that  term,  after  all, 



Emanutl  M. 

means  nothing  more  than  that  the  road  is  laid  along  high  ground.  But  it  is 
not  a  motorway — for  that  word  means  a  right  of  way  explicitly  designed  for 
and  adapted  to  the  uses  of  motor  traffic. 

The  aim  of  highway  engineers  in  the  twentieth  century  should  be  to  con- 
struct motorways  instead  of  highways.  It  is  an  important  task,  and  an  inspir- 
ing one.  It  means  pioneering,  traveling  over  uncharted  territory  instead  of 
following  in  the  well-worn  paths  which  tradition  has  laid  down.  But  just  as 
the  horse  and  buggy  have  been  replaced  by  the  motor  car,  so  must  the  high- 
way be  replaced  by  the  motorway. 




Brown  Bros. 


'HEN  a  family  took  a  pleasure  spin  in  the  car  thirty  years  ago,  elabo- 
rate preparations  were  required.  Tow  ropes,  tire-patching  outfits,  reserve  cans 
of  water,  oil  and  gas  were  provided  against  the  emergency  which  was  likely  to 
happen.  A  basket  luncheon  was  made  ready,  to  bolster  morale  when  the  car 
broke  down  in  some  remote  place  perhaps  fifteen  miles  from  home.  Each  mem- 
ber of  the  family  was  protected  from  dust.  Women  didn't  drive  cars  in  those 
days;  but  they  bundled  themselves  in  mummy-like  veils  for  protection.  The 
head  of  the  family  cut  an  even  more  formidable  figure  when  he  appeared  in 
front  of  the  car.  Like  his  wife,  he  wore  a  long  linen  duster,  to  which  he  added 
a  cap  that  would  not  blow  off,  goggles  of  the  largest  size  and  special  automo- 
bile driving  gauntlets.  Ready  to  start,  the  driver  approached  the  car,  bent 
over,  put  his  shoulder  firmly  against  the  radiator,  mustered  up  all  his  strength 
and  spun  the  crank.  Nothing  happened.  He  tried  again.  If  the  car  backfired, 
the  crank  might  knock  him  flat,  might  break  his  arm.  Any  way  you  looked  at 
it,  it  was  a  hazardous  matter. 

Today,  without  giving  it  a  thought,  the  driver  steps  on  the  self-starter  or 



presses  the  starting  button  on  his  instrument  panel,  and  the 
chore  is  performed  for  him.  The  least  possible  human  effort  is 
involved.  No  year  has  passed  without  the  introduction  of  devices 
to  promote  safer  and  more  efficient  driving.  Automatic  wipers 
sweep  across  windshields  made  of  non-shatterable  glass.  High- 
power  electric  headlights  have  replaced  the  gas  and  kerosene 
light  of  earlier  days.  Automatic  tail  lights  flash  warning  when 
the  brakes  are  applied.  Four-wheel  brakes  stop  the  car.  Steel  top 
and  body  minimize  the  damage  in  case  of  crash.  The  irreversible 
steering  wheel  and  shock  absorbers  help  to  make  driving  steady 
and  easy.  Tires  are  now  made  puncture  proof  and  skid  proof. 
The  car  which  stands  in  an  automobile  showroom  today  is  emi- 
nently safe  and  easily  adapted  to  human  needs.  The  purchaser  of 
this  car  considers  it  very  good  indeed,  and  his  confidence  that 
each  year's  car  will  be  better  than  last  year's  model  is  justified  by 

But  how  about  the  driver?  Has  he  too  improved  in  these  thirty 
years  of  motor-car  experience  as  the  car  has  improved?  Not  by 
any  means.  He  is  still,  day  in,  day  out,  on  three  million  miles  of 
road,  the  same,  as  bad  a  driver  as  the  fellow  who  drove  a 
Chalmers  in  1910.  His  eyesight  is  no  better,  he  reacts  no  faster, 
he  doesn't  think  any  better,  he  gets  drunk  just  as  easily,  he  is  just 
as  absent-minded. 

Hard-surfaced  roads  and  closed  cars  have  enabled  him  to  lay 
aside  his  ponderous  dust-protective  costume.  Today  he  may 
never  take  the  wrenches  out  of  his  tool  kit  from  one  year's  end 
to  another.  The  car  that  he  drives  can  go  three  times  as  fast  as  the 
one  he  had  before.  Traffic  volume  has  multiplied  a  hundredfold. 

Above:    1905 
Below:    1940 

A  vast  variety  of  constantly  new  road  situations  flash  upon  him,  each  of  which 
he  must  be  ready  to  solve.  To  keep  pace  with  the  machine  he  manages,  he 
should  be  able  each  year  to  see  more  clearly,  think  more  quickly  and  act  faster 
than  ever  before.  His  car  has  been  entirely  remodeled.  His  highway  is  being 
remodeled.  How  can  the  driver  be  remodeled? 

Thirty  years  ago  the  worst  problem  a  driver  ever  encountered  was  the  maxi- 
mum speed  of  a  runaway  horse — and  there  was  practically  no  congestion 
problem.  Yet  even  then  he  had  troubles  in  handling  his  vehicle.  Today  the 
situation  is  far  worse,  because  he  is  still  the  same  human  being,  and  yet  he  has 
to  handle  both  increased  traffic  congestion  and  increased  speeds. 

No  two  drivers  can  be  counted  upon  to  behave  alike.  At  the  outset  that 
illustrates  the  seriousness  of  the  problem.  Nothing  magnifies  the  difference 
between  individual  reactions  more  than  motoring.  Even  the  same  man  faced 
with  the  identical  situation  at  different  times  will  react  differently,  due  to 
countless  factors  within  himself.  Nervousness,  irritability  and  quirks  of  char- 
acter so  slight  that  they  ordinarily  pass  unnoticed  become  positive  dangers  at 
motor  speeds.  Absent-mindedness,  which  may  have  no  more  serious  conse- 
quences at  the  breakfast  table  than  for  a  man  to  look  up  and  ask  his  wife 
"What  did  you  say,  dear?"  may  make  him  forget  to  give  proper  hand  signals 
as  he  drives  to  work,  with  cars  crowding  close  behind.  A  trivial  quarrel  linger- 
ing in  his  mind  may  dominate  his  thoughts  at  the  moment  a  child  runs  out  in 
the  street  ahead  of  him  in  pursuit  of  a  rolling  glass  marble. 

Long  after  childhood  has  passed,  men  still  act  on  impulse.  Sheer  exuberance 
one  pleasant  morning  may  make  a  driver  try  to  round  a  curve  at  a  speed 
which  hurls  him  off  the  road  for  good.  Or,  in  pursuit  of  his  own  glass  marble 
—some  bit  of  business  or  golf — he  will  hurry  along,  bluffing  for  the  right  of 
way  until  he  comes  up  against  another  of  his  own  kind.  Like  the  child  running 
out  in  the  path  of  a  moving  car,  no  driver  expects  trouble.  It  comes  as  a  com- 


plete  surprise,  in  a  moment  of  impatience  or  inattention  or  unpreparedness. 
Or  perhaps  it  comes  when  the  driver,  superhumanly  alert  and  well  within  his 
rights,  is  struck  by  another  driver  who  is  superhumanly  careless.  It  makes  lit- 
tle difference  except  to  a  coroner's  jury,  whether  one  driver,  or  both,  or 
neither  was  at  fault.  As  the  old  epitaph  puts  it, 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

"Here  lies  the  body  of  William  Jay 
Who  died  maintaining  his  right  of  way. 
Will  was  dead  right  as  he  sped  along 
But  he's  just  as  dead  as  though  he'd  been  wrong." 

Human  nature  itself,  unaided,  does  not  make  for  efficient  driving.  Human 
beings,  even  when  at  the  wheel,  are  prone  to  talk,  wave  to  their  friends,  make 
love,  day-dream,  listen  to  the  radio,  stare  at  striking  billboards,  light  cigarettes, 
take  chances.  They  would  not  be  very  human  if  they  abandoned  these  prac- 
tices even  while  driving,  but  in  the  brief  instant  it  takes  to  light  a  cigarette, 
many  drivers'  thoughts  have  been  rudely  deflated  from  the  road  into  eternity. 

Even  when  the  driver  is  in  full  command  of  the  situation,  concentrating  his 


whole  attention  on  the  highway  and  the  problems  of  driving,  he  cannot  act 
instantaneously.  Confronted  with  an  emergency,  he  jams  on  the  brakes. 
Traveling  at  twenty  miles  an  hour  along  a  clear,  dry  road,  his  car  requires 
forty-four  feet  to  come  to  a  stop.  Its  actual  braking  distance  on  that  road  and 
at  that  speed  is  twenty-two  feet.  What  accounts  for  the  other,  possibly  fatal 

General  Motors 


twenty- two?  The  driver  is  not  sluggish,  but  he  is  average  and  human,  and  has 
a  normal  reaction  time  of  three-quarters  of  a  second.  And  in  that  fraction  of 
a  second  a  car  going  twenty  miles  an  hour  travels  twenty- two  feet.  This  frac- 
tion of  a  second  represents  the  time  actually  consumed  between  the  instant 


Portland  Cement  Assn. 


his  eyes  see  the  danger  and  the  moment  he  applies  his  foot  to  the  brakes.  Three- 
quarters  of  a  second  is  an  average  value  for  this  period  of  delay.  For  many 
drivers  it  is  a  longer  interval,  and  for  a  few  drivers  a  shorter  one. 

Increase  the  driver's  speed  to  fifty  miles  an  hour,  a  more  usual  rate  on  the 
open  road.  His  reaction  time  does  not  change,  but  during  this  three-quarters- 


of-a-second  interval  a  car  traveling  at  that  speed  will  have  covered  fifty-five 
feet,  and  will  require  a  distance  of  almost  two  hundred  feet  to  come  to  a  stop. 
As  the  speed  of  the  car  is  increased,  the  distance  required  to  stop  the  car  in- 
creases correspondingly,  due  to  the  increased  distance  which  the  car  will  travel 
during  the  three-quarters-of-a-second  reaction-time  interval,  plus  the  in- 
creased distance  required  for  the  brakes  to  bring  the  faster-moving  car  to  a 
stop  after  they  have  been  applied. 

Besides  the  general  human  characteristics  which  are  common  to  all  automo- 
bile operators,  there  are  also  individual  failings  which  are  not  conducive  to 
safe  driving.  A  driver  may  have  defective  eyesight.  One  or  two  of  every  five 
motorists  share  this  handicap.  Worse,  and  very  probably,  he  doesn't  know 
that  he  has  it.  His  limitation  may  take  the  form  of  being  unable  to  see  objects 
"out  of  the  corner"  of  his  eye.  His  field  of  vision  may  be  so  restricted  that  he 
sees  things  as  though  viewing  them  through  a  tunnel. 

Or  he  may  just  have  been  drinking.  No  two  authorities  quite  agree  on  the 
point  at  which  a  person  who  has  been  drinking  becomes  a  danger,  but  one  esti- 
mate, based  on  state  surveys  for  1937,  declared  that  8  per  cent  of  all  drivers  and 
1 3  per  cent  of  all  pedestrians  involved  in  fatal  accidents  had  been  drinking. 
Whether  these  were  unable  to  walk  a  straight  line  or  speak  the  English  language 
properly,  or  whether  they  merely  had  alcohol  on  their  breath,  is  not  clear.  Tests 
made  in  a  Milwaukee  hospital  show  that,  under  the  influence  of  alcohol,  drivers' 
reaction  time  and  consequent  braking  distance  were  increased  by  3  0  per  cent, 
that  their  eye  and  muscular  coordination  was  40  per  cent  poorer  than  normal, 
and  that  they  made  60  per  cent  more  errors  than  drivers  completely  sober. 

The  driver  may  have  no  physical  ailments,  but  he  may  be  a  mental  specimen 
of  the  type  that  regards  the  road  as  a  sort  of  athletic  field  on  which  he  can 
show  off.  Left  unsatisfied  by  his  humdrum  daily  existence,  he  may  use  high- 
way conquests  and  victories  over  opposing  cars  as  a  means  to  blow  up  his  ego. 


He  may  be  merely  bull- 
headed,  or  on  the  other 
hand  timid,  or  he  may  be 
—and  very  few  drivers' 
license  tests  manage  to 
discover  this — definitely 
subnormal.  In  any  case  he 
is  an  unreliable  factor  to 
have  in  control  of  a  car. 

Carelessness  is  another 

human  failing  common  to  SAFER  THAN  THE  AVERAGE  MOTORIST 

many  drivers.  Over-confidence  or  boredom  often  produces  lack  of  attention 
in  an  experienced  driver,  due  to  the  monotony  of  a  long  or  familiar  trip.  He 
may  be  day-dreaming  when  an  object  suddenly  looms  up  ahead  causing  him  to 
obey  a  reflex  and  become  tense.  If  he  has  his  foot  on  the  accelerator,  this  im- 
pulse follows  a  pattern  contrary  to  the  muscular  coordination  and  reflex 
action  which  are  required  in  such  a  situation.  It  may  tend  not  toward  self- 
preservation  but  toward  self-destruction.  Or,  finally,  a  driver's  health  may  be 
excellent  and  his  judgment  clear,  when  suddenly  he  is  faced  with  a  complex 
road  emergency  that  transcends  all  his  experience.  He  is  holding  a  hurtling 
instrument  in  his  hands.  Quick  action  and  lightning  precision  are  demanded  of 
him.  Yet  something  inside  him  clamps  down — he  freezes,  helpless.  It  is — panic. 

Today's  driver  is  the  same  unpredictable  fellow  he  was  in  the  days  of  the 
Chalmers.  The  automobile  may  have  dispensed  with  the  whipstock  which  ap- 
peared on  early  models,  but  drivers  have  not  rid  themselves  of  impulses  which 
have  been  part  of  them  from  time  immemorial.  True,  training  by  continual 
automobile  driving  is  perhaps  quickening  the  reaction  time  of  man  as  a  species, 
but  these  reactions  of  his  cannot  be  depended  upon.  Man  is  not  a  machine 

and  he  cannot  be  geared  to  function  automatically  as  part  of  any  machine. 

Cities  and  states  have  tried  to  keep  the  driver  up  to  date  by  means  of  legisla- 
tion. They  have  commanded  him  to  overcome  his  known  limitations  and  to 
drive  with  robot-like  precision.  When  he  sets  off  from  Jacksonville  along  the 
350  miles  to  Miami,  he  is  confronted  with  6,760  signs  on  the  way,  telling  him 
what  to  do  and  what  not  to  do.  They  remind  him  of  Prohibition.  He  becomes 
irritated  at  the  heckling,  moralizing  free  advice.  He  feels  little  guilt  in  evading 
them  when  he  can.  Each  time  he  crosses  a  state  line  he  becomes  subject  to  a 
new,  often  unfamiliar  and  conflicting  set  of  commandments.  In  this  way,  con- 
ditions are  created  when  even  an  upright  citizen  becomes  a  law  breaker.  Signs 
drill  into  his  eyes  the  one  injunction:  "Drive  slowly."  He  is  not  fooled.  He 
knows  that  this  is  a  complete  contradiction.  Cars  are  built  for  safe,  fast  trans- 
portation. Although  he  may  be  unfamiliar  with  President  Cleveland's  graceful 
phrase  about  letting  the  law  "pass  into  innocuous  desuetude,"  he  treats  it  with 
the  same  respect  as  another  law  still  on  the  statute  books:  "It  is  not  permitted 
in  New  York  City  to  open  an  umbrella  in  the  presence  of  a  horse." 

Most  traffic  control  seems  merely  to  try  to  restrict  man's  inalienable  right  to 
be  killed  at  street  crossings,  not  to  aid  him  constructively  in  the  pursuit  of 
motoring  happiness.  It  regards  the  motorist  as  a  rugged  individualist  on  whom 
certain  checks  and  balances  must  be  imposed  in  the  form  of  red  lights  and 
police  whistles.  The  control  measures  have  been  designed  only  to  meet  certain 
given  situations,  leaving  many  accidents  within  the  law.  For  instance,  in  spite 
of  the  safety  command  to  "go  slow,"  90  per  cent  of  all  accidents  occur  at  com- 
paratively low  speeds.  And  in  spite  of  all  the  rules  on  what  to  do  and  what  not 
to  do,  nine  out  of  ten  accidents  are  caused,  not  by  a  mechanical  failure,  but  by 
human  failure. 

The  inference  seems  clear:  as  long  as  there  is  opportunity  to  make  a  mistake, 
some  driver  will  make  it.  As  long  as  there  are  roads  on  which  emergencies  can 


arise,  just  so  long  will  there  be  drivers  who  fail  to  meet  them.  The  present-day 
trend  as  to  how  to  remove  the  risk  due  to  the  human  factor  is  to  restrict  the 
driver.  Everything  is  leaning  toward  greater  restrictions  as  to  who  may  drive  a 
car,  the  speed  at  which  a  car  may  be  driven,  and  other  considerations  of  that 
nature.  Authorities  are  trying  to  give  more  severe  examinations  to  the  driver, 
to  make  sure  that  only  "good  men"  will  be  selected.  But  more  severe  drivers' 
examinations  cannot  produce  much  greater  road  safety.  Examinations  never 
reveal  anything.  Even  if  only  the  best  10  per  cent  of  drivers  were  allowed 
to  drive  there  would  still  be  accidents,  because  this  10  per  cent  would  at 
some  time  or  other  be  less  able  to  drive  than  it  was  at  the  time  when 
it  was  tested.  Tests  can  only  reveal  how  an  individual  acts  and  thinks  at 
a  given  moment  under  special  circumstances — not  how  he  acts  and  thinks  day 
in  and  day  out  under  a  variety  of  different  situations.  In  short,  more  severe 
examinations  will  not  solve  the  problem.  Legislating  against  the  driver  will  not 
improve  his  inherent  characteristics.  Restricting  speed  is  not  going  to  solve  the 
problem.  Variable  factors  in  the  human  being  cannot  be  regulated. 

It  is  ridiculous,  for  example,  to  pass  a  law  saying  that  when  one  driver  meets 
another  car  he  must  dim  his  lights,  when  this  action  can  be  achieved  by  me- 
chanical means  independent  of  the  driver.  The  use  of  automatically  controlled 
light  which  keeps  the  oncoming  glare  from  the  driver's  eyes  is  one  way  of 
achieving  the  desired  effect — and  there  are  no  buttons  which  someone  must 
remember  to  push.  A  mechanical  solution  is  bound  to  be  more  satisfactory 
than  a  psychological  or  legal  solution  because  it  regulates  not  only  those 
drivers  who  are  cooperative,  intelligent  and  law-abiding,  but  all  drivers. 

Other  forms  of  transportation  have  done  a  great  deal  in  eliminating  the 
human  factor.  Railroads  have  developed  the  automatic  block  system  in  which 
the  railway  track  is  divided  into  "blocks"  or  sections.  The  rails  are  wired  so 
that  as  the  wheels  of  one  train  pass  over  electrical  contact  points,  the  presence 


New  York  Central  Railroad 

of  a  train  within  that  block  is  automatically  signaled  to  the  next  block.  Should 
a  second  train  enter  the  next  block  while  the  first  train  occupies  the  block 
ahead,  the  second  train  would  receive  a  "caution"  signal.  If  the  second  train 
passes  through  its  block  before  the  first  train  has  passed  out  of  that  block,  the 
second  train  may  be  automatically  stopped.  Upon  the  first  train  advancing  to 
another  block,  a  "clear"  signal  flashes  for  the  second  train,  indicating  that  it  is 
now  safe  to  proceed. 

The  locomotive  engineer  is  not  likely  to  make  a  mistake  as  a  result  of  wrong 
judgment.  Neither  is  there  danger  of  accident  due  to  sudden  absent-minded- 
ness or  physical  failure.  A  device  known  as  the  "dead  man's  stick"  automati- 
cally brings  a  train  to  a  safe  halt  if  the  engineer's  hand  falls  from  the  controls. 
An  efficient  system  of  automatic  signals  keeps  him  thoroughly  acquainted 
with  the  situation  ahead  of  him,  informs  him  of  emergencies  which  are  not 
visible  to  the  human  eye. 

Present-day  lack  of  automobile  safety  control  cannot  be  excused  on  the 


grounds  that  the  automotive  industry  is  younger  than  the  railroad,  because 
the  youngest  of  all  transport  facilities,  the  air  line,  also  uses  a  number  of 
mechanical  safety  devices.  Airplanes  utilize  the  radio  beam  and  plane-to-plane 
and  plane- to-field  radio  telephone.  These  controlling  devices  have  one  thing  in 
common,  the  conjunctive  operation  of  the  right  of  way  and  vehicle.  Yet  even 
with  these  automatic  devices,  train  engineers  and  air  pilots  are  still  carefully 
selected  and  trained  for  their  jobs. 

Travel  by  automobile  is  more  than  twenty-five  times  as  great  as  by  train, 
and  more  than  seven  hundred  and  fifty  times  as  great  as  by  air.  Yet  it  is 
only  the  trains  and  airplanes  that  carry  mechanical  controls  to  provide  auto- 
matic aid  for  their  drivers.  Radio  beams,  block  systems  and  other  devices 
could  be  applied  to  the  automobile,  not  exactly,  but  in  general  principle. 

In  the  motor  car  itself  much  has  been  done  in  the  last  twenty  years.  The 
phenomenal -nature  of  these  advances  makes  one  think  that  the  advances  in 
the  next  twenty  years  will  be  even  quicker  and  greater  than  anything  that 
has  been  done  so  far.  The  engine  may  be  moved  from  the  present  location  to  a 
place  under  the  floor  or  in  the  rear,  giving  many  improvements,  including 
improved  vision  and  the  possibility  of  building  a  more  resilient  and  safe 
bumper  at  the  front  of  the  car.  It  will  have  a  higher  speed  and  it  will  be  used 
at  that  speed.  No  driver  always  drives  at  full  speed,  but  he  will  use  that  speed 
as  freely  on  the  proper  roads  as  he  now  uses  twenty-five  at  best  on  a  crowded 
highway.  Tires  will  be  made  resistant  to  the  effects  of  heat,  oil  and  gasoline 
so  that  they  can  withstand  the  higher  speeds  of  twenty  years  from  now  as 
they  withstand  the  present-day  driving  speed.  Cars  will  be  smaller  but 
roomier.  Interiors  will  be  more  flexible  as  to  use.  They  will  be  air  conditioned. 
Cars  will  be  more  comfortable  to  ride  in,  more  economical  to  run,  and  capable 
of  higher  speed.  But  none  of  these  improvements  will  mean  a  thing  if  there  is 
not  a  corresponding  advance  in  safety.  Given  a  1960  automobile,  with  its 

Portland  Cement  Assn. 


tremendous  technical  advances  and  capabilities,  the  1940  driver  would  prob- 
ably find  it  simply  a  more  economical  and  quicker  way  to  get  himself  into 
a  smash-up. 

But  with  the  changes  in  the  car,  will  the  driver  too  be  changed?  Will  he 
have  lost  one  bad  trait  which  made  him  years  ago  a  menace  to  his  own  safety 
and  a  nuisance  to  others?  Don't  count  on  it.  But  these  cars  of  1960  and  the 
highways  on  which  they  drive  will  have  in  them  devices  which  will  correct 
the  faults  of  human  beings  as  drivers.  They  will  prevent  the  driver  from  com- 
mitting errors.  They  will  prevent  his  turning  out  into  traffic  except  when  he 
should.  They  will  aid  him  in  passing  through  intersections  without  slowing 
down  or  causing  anyone  else  to  do  so  and  without  endangering  himself  or 
others.  Many  present  beginnings  give  hints  of  the  kind  of  over- all  planning 
on  which  the  near  future  could  realize.  Everything  will  be  designed  by  engineer- 
ing, not  by  legislation,  not  in  piecemeal  fashion,  but  as  a  complete  job.  The 
two,  the  car  and  the  road,  are  both  essential  to  the  realization  of  automatic 
safety.  It  is  a  job  that  must  be  done  by  motor-car  manufacturers  and  road 
builders  cooperatively.  Such  devices  when  adopted  will  not  be  included  in 
just  this  car  or  that.  They  would  do  no  good  just  here  and  there.  They  will 
be  obligatory  for  all  cars.  They  will  prevent  a  car  from  turning  out  of  a  lane 
except  under  favorable  circumstances.  They  will  prevent  him  from  moving 


i  Electric 



from  one  highway  artery  into  another  until  his  speed  has  been  brought  up  or 
down  to  the  rate  of  the  new  artery  he  is  to  enter.  They  will  safeguard  traffic 
lanes  from  right  or  left  interference.  They  will  make  it  possible  for  him  to 
proceed  at  full  speed  through  dense  fog.  They  will  aid  him  as  he  travels  at 
night,  as  he  crosses  mountain  ranges,  as  he  traverses  the  breadth  of  the  country 
and  as  he  drives  through  city  streets. 

In  1940  many  people  felt  that  those  drivers  who  blundered  ought  to  be 
driven  off  the  highway.  But  since  almost  everyone  at  some  time  blundered— 
indeed,  couldn't  help  blundering,  given  such  a  set-up  of  unworkable  laws  and 
obsolete  roads — that  demand  was  much  too  difficult  ever  to  be  carried  out. 
It  usually  worked  out  in  the  sense  that  the  blunderers  drove  themselves  off  the 
highways — into  the  ditch.  But  in  1960  they  all  stay  out  of  the  ditch.  It  is  not 
done  by  law,  but  through  the  very  nature  of  the  car  and  the  highway.  They 
still  blunder,  of  course,  but  when  they  do,  they  are  harmless. 



AVE  you  ever  conceived  of  a  road  which  would  allow  no  car  to  approach 
your  own — which  would  hold  you  to  your  course  without  the  danger  of  be- 
ing struck  or  of  striking  any  object — where  you  could  decide  in  advance  how 
fast  you  would  like  to  drive,  and  by  maintaining  that  constant,  effortless  pace, 
arrive  at  your  destination  on  scheduled  time?  It  sounds  impossible?  But  you  can 
have  such  a  road.  The  means  of  bringing  it  about  are  available.  The  idea  is 
thoroughly  practical.  It  can  be  built  to  work  in  conjunction  with  an  auto- 
matic control  installed  in  your  car.  The  highway  you  use  can  be  made  as  safe 
and  pleasant  at  all  times  as  it  would  be  if  your  car  were  the  only  automobile 
upon  it. 

Today,  in  the  course  of  an  average  mile  drive  through  traffic,  your  automo- 
bile is  exposed  to  several  hundred  cars,  moving  in  every  direction  and  at  every 
variation  in  speed  from  ten  to  seventy  miles  an  hour.  In  this  disorderly  traffic 
flow,  there  can  be  no  certainty  that  one  car  of  all  those  hundreds  will  not 
meet  you  head-on,  crash  in  behind  you  or  suddenly  lash  against  the  side  of 
your  car.  It  is  not  only  the  accident,  but  the  fear  of  accident,  which  retards 



Henry  Flam 



Margaret  Bourke-White 


the  effective  use  of  the  motor  car.  Wherever  there  is  danger,  traffic  is  forced 
to  go  slowly,  which  causes  delay,  congestion,  exasperated  drivers,  more  acci- 
dents. The  highway  attributes  that  produce  accidents  are  four  in  number. 
They  are  known  to  everyone. 

First:  The  crossroad.  Here  two  crossing  streams  of  traffic  using  the  same 
pavement  cause  the  greatest  congestion  on  the  highway  today.  This  problem 
will  be  discussed  in  the  next  chapter. 

Second:  The  road  edge.  Stationary  hazards  at  the  roadside,  such  as  soft 
shoulders,  culverts,  fences,  hydrants,  telephone  poles,  parked  cars,  as  well  as 
moving  objects,  such  as  jay-walkers  or  stray  dogs  wandering  onto  the  high- 
way, cause  motorists  to  crowd  inward  away  from  them  and  thus  slow  down 

Third:  Cars  moving  in  opposite  directions.  This  with  its  head-on  collisions 
results  in  more  fatal  accidents  than  any  other  type. 

Fourth:  Cars  moving  in  the  same  direction  but  at  different  speeds.  This 
is  an  important  cause  of  retardation  of  traffic  flow  and  is  the  greatest  cause  of 
automobile  accidents.  It  results  in  rear-end  collisions  and  the  sideswiping  of 
two  cars  in  adjacent  lanes. 


Port.and  Cement  Assn.      ™REE    SPEEDS    AHEAD 

Portland  Cement  Assn. 

Ewing  Galloway 

Dr.  Miller  McClintock,  Director  of  the  Yale  University  Bureau  for 
Street  Traffic  Research,  who  devised  the  audit  count  which  has  become  the 
basis  of  many  American  city  traffic  patterns,  has  aptly  expressed  these  four 
factors  which  retard  the  smooth  flow  of  traffic  in  the  following  terms: 
At  crossroads:  intersectional  friction. 
At  the  road  edge:  marginal  friction. 

Between  cars  moving  in  opposite  directions:  medial  friction. 
Between  cars  moving  in  the  same  direction:  internal-stream  friction. 
When  cars  could  travel  at  only  ten  miles  an  hour,  it  was  not  a  serious  incon- 
venience if  they  held  each  other  up.  But  when  they  can  travel  at  present-day 
speeds,  it  is  serious,  unfair,  uneconomical  and  dangerous.  It  is  only  now — 
when  speed  is  here  to  stay — that  it  has  become  necessary  to  correct  the  various 
kinds  of  interference. 

Prior  to  the  automobile  era,  when  animal-drawn  carts  and  foot  traffic 
traveling  on  single-lane  dirt  roads  met  another  vehicle  traveling  in  the  op- 
posite direction,  each  pulled  half  way  off  the  road  to  facilitate  passing.  With 
the  introduction  of  the  automobile,  due  to  the  faster  speeds  involved,  a  differ- 
ent type  of  right  of  way  was  demanded,  a  highway  permitting  clear  travel  in 
two  directions  simultaneously.  The  simplest  type  of  such  a  road  is  two  lanes  in 
opposite  directions.  On  a  two-lane  road  one  car  overtaking  another  traveling 

in  the  same  direction  is  expected  to  pass 
by  pulling  over  into  the  lane  of  opposing 
traffic.  This  was  adequate  at  first,  when 
there  were  few  cars,  but  today  at  mod- 
el ern  road  speeds,  the  intrusion  of  an  au- 
1  tomobile  moving  in  one  direction  into  a 


-o  line  of  cars  moving  in  another  direction 


I  is  a  matter  of  life  or  death.  In  spite  of 


this  peril,  many  state 
highways  in  the  United 
States  are  still  only  two 
lanes  wide — not  just  a 
great  number  or  large 
majority,  but  by  actual 
count  9  8  per  cent. 

Where  traffic  is  heavy, 
the  general  practice  has 
been  to  add  more  lanes. 
The  unhappy  fact  is  that  ADDING  LANES  MULT'PLIES  ACCIDENTS 
the  mere  widening  of  roads  tends  to  promote  accidents  rather  than  prevent 
them.  Traffic  studies  indicate  that  for  an  equal  number  of  miles  traveled  there 
are  only  three  accidents  on  a  two-lane  road  to  every  four  accidents  on  the 
wider  highways.  Three-lane  highways,  where  cars  fly  at  each  other  like  game 
cocks  battling  for  use  of  the  center  lane,  are  particularly  tempting  for  head-on 
collisions.  To  eliminate  this  danger,  on  highways  widened  to  four  and  six  lanes 
physical  separation  of  opposing  streams  of  traffic  is  a  recent  development. 
Such  two-way  divided  roads  are  an  obvious  improvement  over  the  three-lane 
undivided  roads.  But  such  physical  division  is  the  exception  rather  than  the 
rule,  and  in  its  absence,  the  accident  rate  increases  as  the  number  of  lanes  is 
increased.  Mid-road  collisions  cause  nearly  one-fifth  of  all  accidents  on  the 
highway.  Four  years  ago,  Mr.  H.  C.  Dickinson  of  the  National  Bureau  of 
Standards  said:  "We  should  never  have  built,  and  should  stop  building  now, 
main  country  thoroughfares  carrying  heavy  traffic  in  both  directions  on  the 
same  pavement." 

Segregating  opposing  streams  of  traffic  by  means  of  the  one-way  street  is 
common  practice.  Nor  is  it  a  modern  idea.  The  Romans  did  it.  Today  this 


Underwood  &  Underwoc 

California  State  Highway  Dept. 

venerable  practice  survives  and  still  proves  its  worth.  Studies 
made  on  Chestnut,  Walnut  and  Market  Streets  in  Philadelphia, 
before  and  after  their  conversion  to  one-way  arteries,  show  that 
speed  is  increased  by  more  than  20  per  cent,  that  traffic  volume 
is  increased  by  more  than  20  per  cent,  and  that  accidents  be- 
tween intersections  have  been  materially  reduced. 

Through  the  countryside,  one-way  roads  would  be  equally 
desirable,  but  they  cannot  be  achieved  as  simply  as  one-way 
streets  within  a  city.  Closely  parallel  routes  with  frequent  inter- 
connections are  limited  to  the  cities,  and  the  arbitrary  conver- 
sion of  country  roads  into  one-way  traffic  channels  would  work 
a  hardship  on  local  traffic. 

The  first  step  toward  separating  streams  of  traffic  on  the  exist- 
ing rural  highways  was  taken  in  1911,  after  Edward  Hines,  Road 
Commissioner  of  Wayne  County,  Michigan,  saw  an  automobile 
almost  collide  with  a  horse  and  buggy  on  a  narrow  bridge.  Real- 
izing that  neither  driver  involved  could  do  more  than  make  a 
guess  as  to  where  the  exact  center  of  the  road  lay,  Mr.  Hines 
ordered  white  lines  painted  down  the  middle  of  every  bridge  and 
curve  under  his  authority.  Later  he  extended  these  lines  along  the 
full  length  of  his  paved  roads.  That  was  nearly  thirty  years  ago. 
Today  an  assortment  of  solid  lines,  double  lines,  dotted  lines, 



Portland  Cement  Assn. 

dashes  and  arrows,  painted  white,  yellow  or  black  divide  the  highways.   = 


This  practice  marks  an  advance  in  safety,  but  it  is  not  a  guarantee.  1 

Good  drivers  like  to  know  where  the  middle  of  the  road  is,  in  order  to  ^ 


stay  away  from  it.  But  bad  drivers,  the  road  hog,  the  novice,  the  drunk,  I 
the  show-off,  and  all  that  reckless  tribe,  are  inclined  to  straddle  the 
mark.  Some,  with  a  phobia  against  the  road's  edge,  hug  the  line  so 
closely  that  they  sideswipe  cars  to  the  left  of  them. 

The  neutral  strip  used  for  central  division  on  wider  roadways  is  in 
effect  a  mere  broadening  of  the  painted  line.  From  three  and  a  half 
to  four  feet  in  width,  such  a  strip  is  frequently  laid  in  contrasting 
colors  of  material  to  differentiate  it  from  that  part  of  the  road  devoted 
to  traffic  lanes. 

Lanes  themselves  have  also  been  laid  down  in  contrasting  road  sur- 
faces. "Psychology"  road  design  has  been  tried  on  the  highway  between 
Richmond  and  Petersburg,  Virginia;  in  Rhode  Island  on  the  Putnam 
Pike,  Gooseneck  Hill  Road;  on  the  Boston  Post  Road  and  others.  On 
these  four-lane  roads,  light-colored  smooth  cement  lanes  have  been 
built  on  either  side  of  a  central  paving  of  coarse- textured  black  mac- 
adam. The  macadam  is  wide  enough  for  two  additional  lanes  and  a  three- 
foot  neutral  strip  which  is  marked  off  by  white  lines.  No  one  wants  to 
hear  the  roar  of  his  tires  over  the  rough-surfaced  macadam  for  an 
appreciable  distance  if  he  can  help  it,  so  drivers  keep  away  from  the 
center  of  the  road  except  when  passing.  There  were  twenty-seven  ac- 
cidents on  the  Putnam  Pike  in  1936,  before  the  center  of  the  road  was 
rough-paved,  and  only  eight  accidents  in  the  year  afterwards. 


On  many  California  roads,  arrow-shaped  protuberances  have  been  1= 
set  in  a  line  along  the  middle  of  the  road}  not  sufficiently  high  to  present  « 


a  hazard  but  making  continuous  driving  in  the  center  of  the  road  dis-  1 


tinctly  uncomfortable.  A  similar  drastic  inducement 
to  keep  the  center  strip  free  for  emergencies  is  a  series 
of  raised  domes.  These  devices  undoubtedly  serve  a 
safety  purpose,  but  it  is  a  curious  paradox  that  road 
builders  should  deliberately  design  discomfort  into 
heavily  traveled  highways. 

Still  another  type  of  central  divider,  which  takes  up 
no  more  space  than  the  painted  line  already  used  for 
marking  off  one-way  traffic,  has  been  tried  on  Ramona 
Boulevard  in  Los  Angeles.  Convex  metal  bands 
mounted  on  steel  springs  at  the  height  of  a  hub-cap 
had  already  proved  strong  and  resilient  when  used  as 
roadside  guard  rails.  Two  such  convex  metal  bands 
mounted  on  steel  springs  were  bolted  back  to  back  and 
mounted  on  steel  posts  in  the  center  of  the  Boulevard, 
making  it  impossible  for  cars  to  cross  over  onto  the 
opposing  lanes.  Near  Lansing,  Michigan,  a  strip  of  cor- 
rugated steel  has  been  laid  down  the  center  of  the  road, 
with  slanting  grooves  so  designed  that  they  grip  the 
wheels  of  an  encroaching  car  and  turn  it  back  onto  its 
lane  of  the  highway. 

Devices  of  this  type  are  possible,  however,  only  on 
wide  roadways  with  room  for  at  least  two  lanes  on  each 
side  of  the  road,  so  that  no  car  need  ever  cross  over 
into  opposing  streams  of  traffic.  And  they  do  not  pre- 
vent a  car  that  is  out  of  control  from  crashing  across 
the  road. 

On  a  few  thoroughfares  there  has  been  one  masterly 



Portland  Cement  Assn. 


improvement  in  design.  It  is  the  first  real  step  toward  motorways  on  which 
cars  can  move  in  safety  at  the  speed  for  which  they  were  built.  On  about  .one- 
fifth  of  the  3,303  miles  of  four-  and  six-lane  roads  in  our  state  highway 
systems,  the  road  is  now  divided  by  something  more  effective  than  painted 
lines  and  bumpy  arrows.  Raised  islands  have  been  introduced  on  many  roads 
which  provide  a  real  barrier  between  streams  of  opposing  traffic.  Highways 
with  central  division  of  this  sort  were  first  tried  out  around  large  cities,  nota- 
bly Detroit,  in  1925.  As  late  as  1931,  they  were  not  widely  favored  by  high- 
way engineers,  but  now  they  are  generally  considered  to  have  proven  their 
worth,  despite  the  fact  that  their  average  cost  is  a  third  greater  than  that  of 
the  undivided  four-lane  highway.  In  a  mile-long  stretch  of  highway  on  Chi- 
cago's Outer  Drive,  where  this  type  of  division  is  used,  the  fatal  accident 
rate  for  four  years  has  been  only  one  in  every  forty  million  vehicle  miles, 
which  is  one-fifth  the  accident  rate  of  the  nation  as  a  whole. 

The  central  division  of  two-way  thoroughfares,  then,  varies  all  the  way 
from  the  painted  line  to  wide  parkways  planted  with  shrubbery  to  screen  off 
one  side  of  the  road  from  the  other.  The  best  central  parkway  divisions  have 
low,  sloping  arched  curbs,  tending  to  slow  down  cars  which  are  forced  off  the 


roadway  by  any  emergency,  and  thus  making  it  easier  to  stop  them  safely. 

The  outside  edge  of  the  road  presents  dangers  that  must  also  be  eliminated. 
One  of  the  earliest  devices  used  to  prevent  vehicles  from  encroaching  on  pedes- 
trian walkways  is  the  simple  curb.  But  as  a  roadside  guard  for  motor  traffic, 
it  is  too  rigid  and  unyielding.  More  resilient  roadside  guards  have  long  been 
employed  along  curves  and  embankments,  and  have  proved  more  effective  in 
holding  cars  on  the  road.  Convex  metal  bands  and  steel  cable  strung  between 
concrete  posts  are  in  common  use.  Wide  grass  strips  along  the  right  of  way  of 
many  new  boulevards  provide  safety  for  a  car  forced  off  the  road  surface  by 
an  emergency,  and  enable  it  to  park  without  blocking  the  lane. 

There  are  other  elements  of  traffic  which  must  be  separated  too.  It  is  not 
enough  just  to  separate  traffic  moving  in  opposite  directions.  To  prevent  cars 
weaving  from  lane  to  lane  and  to  eliminate  sideswiping,  lanes  of  cars  moving 
in  the  same  direction  must  be  divided  one  from  another.  Separators  which  re- 
quire an  appreciable  amount  of  road  space  are  unsuited  to  segregating  individ- 
ual lanes.  Experiments  have  been  conducted  with  many  types  that  are  suffi- 
ciently compact  to  be  practical  for  lane  division. 

Four  or  five  years  ago,  ruts  were  built  into  the  Queensboro  Bridge  in  New 
York  City,  but  they  were  so  ineptly  designed  that  the  experiment  was  aban- 
doned after  a  few  days.  The  fault  was  one  of  design — the  spacing  between 
ruts  was  wrong,  so  that  considerable  damage  was  done  to  tires,  and  the  width 
of  the  ruts  was  too  close  to  tire  width  so  that  unless  the  driver  was  practiced 
at  driving  in  these  particular  ruts  he  continually  burned  the  sidewall  of  one 
tire  or  another.  Raised  portions  along  the  center  part  of  the  lane,  which  the 
car  must  straddle,  have  been  tried,  too,  in  an  attempt  to  keep  cars  in  a  partic- 
ular lane.  These  humps,  ruts  or  rails  are  attempts  to  provide  for  the  automo- 
bile tracks  which  are  as  restricting  as  railroad  tracks  are  to  the  train.  They  are 
experimental  types  and  not  always  successful,  but  at  least  they  point  in  the 






right  direction,  toward  methods  of  segregating  individual  lanes 
of  traffic. 

A  more  practical  solution  to  this  problem  might  be  found  just 
by  looking  at  the  simplest  of  our  roads.  People  who  have  lived  on 
the  land  will  remember  that  on  dirt  roads  which  had  been  worn 
down  below  the  level  of  the  fields  by  travel  it  was  difficult  for 
even  a  runaway  horse  to  crash  with  its  buggy  into  a  rail  fence  up 
above.  The  chance  angle  of  roadside  slope  would  automatically 
turn  the  buggy's  wheels  back  onto  the  road.  If  something  desir- 
able can  happen  by  chance,  why  shouldn't  it  be  made  to  function 
even  better  by  design?  Suppose  that  the  edge  of  a  modern  con- 
crete highway  did  not  stop,  as  it  often  does,  in  a  declivity  or  soft 
shoulder,  but  was  curved  up  at  either  side.  Any  car  out  of  con- 
trol would  be  automatically  turned  back  onto  the  road,  if  the 
curve  were  properly  designed.  The  upward  curving  edge  of  the 
road  itself  could  effectively  serve  both  as  safety  device  and 

Many  devices  of  this  sort  have  been  patented.  Some  separators 
are  designed  in  the  form  of  a  wave  crest,  running  along  the  sides 

of  the  road.  As  a  runaway  car  climbs  up  toward  the  under  side 


of  the  wave's  crest,  its  wheels  are  deflected  back  onto  the  straight  <  H  HER 

^,  .  ,.  ..  METAL  ADAPTATION  OF 

course.  1  his  type  or  separator  could  be  built  of  steel  mesh  woven     SIDE  BARRIER 


in  basket-weave  fashion.  It  could  be  made  of  concrete,  built  as  part  of  the 
road  itself.  It  could  be  of  prefabricated  sheet-metal  construction.  More  flexi- 
ble materials  would  lessen  the  shock  in  turning  the  car  back  to  its  channel. 

Separators  can  prevent  sideswiping  and  head-on  accidents,  but  as  long  as 
there  are  cars  moving  at  different  speeds  in  the  same  lane  of  traffic  there  will 
be  delay  and  the  danger  of  rear-end  collision.  Attempts  have  been  made  to 
separate  passenger  cars  from  trucks  by  forbidding  the  heavier  vehicles  to  use 
certain  highways;  but  this  does  not  make  for  a  larger  and  more  efficient  use  of 

our  roadways.  The  motor  truck  and  the  motor  car  are  capable  of  maintaining 


comparable  speed,  and  as  long  as  a  truck  can  move  fast  enough  to  keep  out  of 

the  way  of  the  car  behind  it,  there  seems  to  be  no  more  valid  reason  for  sepa- 
rating it  from  the  passenger  car  than  there  would  be  for  separating  red  cars 
from  blue  ones.  The  traffic  problem  will  not  be  solved  by  setting  aside  one  road 
for  larger  vehicles  and  another  for  small  ones.  All  that  need  be  expected  of 
any  motor  vehicle  using  the  highway  is  that  it  stay  out  of  the  way  of  other 
cars.  This  involves  a  question  of  speed,  not  of  size. 

In  a  large  percentage  of  accidents,  high  speed  is  not  the  primary  factor, 
though  it  may  greatly  increase  their  intensity.  In  the  last  eleven  years,  the 
maximum  speeds  at  which  passenger  cars  can  travel  have  been  increased  by  5  0 
per  cent,  and  there  is  no  indication  that  a  top  limit  has  been  approached.  Per- 
missible speeds  on  the  highways  lag  far  behind  the  effective  speed  of  a  car. 
Disregarding  the  question  of  highway  intersection,  the  subject  discussed  in 
the  next  chapter,  if  cars  could  be  kept  apart,  traveling  in  each  lane  at  uniform 
speeds,  with  physical  separation  between  the  lanes  and  automatic  control  be- 
tween cars  to  provide  equal  spacing,  cars  could  travel  with  safety  at  much 
greater  speeds  than  they  do  today.  Although  many  states  have  established 
maximum  speed  limits,  and  twenty-two  states  have  legislation  concerning  driv- 
ing at  unreasonably  low  speeds,  few  attempts  have  been  made  to  fix  definitely 


the  speed  of  automobiles  on  any  given  highway  or  in  any  particular  lane  of  any 
highway.  To  be  effective  such  restrictions  must  be  absolute,  and  they  should 
not  be  enforced  by  law,  but  automatically.  Legislation  which  permits  the 
driver  to  apply  his  own  initiative  could  not  be  made  sufficiently  rigid. 

Automatic  controls  have  already  been  provided  to  govern  certain  factors 
of  traffic  operation.  The  most  common  of  these  is  perhaps  the  automatic 
traffic-light  system.  And  it  is  not  a  much  greater  engineering  undertaking 
to  develop  controls  which  can  be  made  to  provide  definite  speed  standardiza- 
tion on  the  highway.  Photo-electric  traffic  traps  are  individual  means  used 
today  for  measuring  traffic  speed,  which  is  merely  the  first  step  toward  con- 
trol. William  A.  Halstead  is  developing  a  small  short-range  radio  broadcasting 
unit  which  has  as  its  primary  purpose  the  instruction  of  traffic.  This  unit 
located  along  the  highway  can  broadcast  messages  to  motorists  through  their 
standard  car  radio  equipment  for  the  particular  section  of  the  highway  cov- 
ered by  the  transmitter  station.  The  transmitter  repeats  the  traffic  bulletins 
automatically,  and  these  bulletins  may  be  instantly  changed  at  the  transmitter 
or  by  telephone  from  a  central  traffic  station.  Experiments  are  being  con- 
ducted with  a  cable  along  the  highway,  from  which  messages  emanate.  The 
same  mechanism  could  transmit  visual  traffic  light  signals  directly  to  minia- 
ture signal  lights  within  the  car.  Further  developments  of  this  system  along 
the  lines  of  car-to-car  radio  hook-up  might  be  used  to  advise  a  driver  nearing 
an  intersection  of  the  approach  of  another  car  or  even  to  maintain  control  of 
speed  and  spacing  of  cars  in  the  same  traffic  lane. 

In  essentials,  the  methods  of  controlling  traffic  which  have  been  described 
here  provide  for  a  restricted  right  of  way  in  the  form  of  individual  traffic 
lanes,  and  for  the  standardization  of  the  speeds  of  cars  within  each  of  these 
lanes.  Here  we  have  a  direct  comparison  to  the  railroad.  The  tracks  provide 
definite  control  as  to  the  path  which  a  train  must  follow,  and  the  railroad 


signal  block  system  controls  spacing  between  trains  on  the  same  track  or 
traffic  lane.  These  devices  could  be  applied  directly  to  the  control  of  automo- 
bile traffic.  A  road  surface  constructed  with  grooves  in  which  the  car  would 
be  guided  would  prevent  the  car  from  deviating  from  its  fixed  lane  of  travel. 
Also,  the  highway  could  be  divided  into  signal  blocks  acting  to  prevent  the 
cars  from  encroaching  upon  one  another.  However,  applying  such  control 
means  to  automobile  traffic  becomes  too  restrictive  and  prevents  the  full 
utilization  of  the  benefits  of  the  automobile  which  come  from  the  car's  flexi- 
bility. Nor  is  such  a  control  system  applicable  to  the  characteristic  operations 
of  the  automobile. 

Within  the  field  of  science  there  are  many  potential  devices  which  could  be 
developed  to  fit  exactly  the  needs  of  traffic  control  as  they  have  been  defined 
here.  One  of  these,  for  instance,  the  radio  beam,  is  now  being  used  in  a  limited 
form  for  the  guiding  of  the  airplane  on  its  course.  The  field  of  electro- 
magnetic emanations,  which  cover  a  very  wide  field  of  electric-wave  impulses, 
is  probably  the  best  adapted  to  the  control  of  traffic.  It  is  conceivable  that  a 



control  operating  directly 
— as  a  radio  beam,  broad- 
cast from  stations  located 
along  the  highway — 
could  provide  the  control 
desired.  Or  perhaps  more 
simply,  an  electrical  con- 
ductor imbedded  within 
the  road  surface,  carrying 
an  electric  current  pro- 
ducing an  electro-mag- 
netic field,  might  provide 
direct  control. 

Having  provided  a  con- 
trol medium,  whatever  its 
form,  it  is  logical  to  ex- 
pect   that    this    medium  ONE  MAN  GUIDES  HUNDREDS  OF  TRAINS  SAFELY 
could  be  applied  to  control  both  the  speed  of  the  car  and  its  path  of  travel.  A 
constant  prescribed  speed  on  the  highway  can  be  maintained  by  causing  the 
impulses  to  accelerate  or  decelerate  the  car  engine.  By  the  same  method  the  in- 
terval between  cars  can  be  set  and  controlled.  The  interval  would  be  set  to 
conform  with  the  safe  stopping  distance  necessary  for  the  speed  of  the  car.  The 
individual  instructions  for  each  car  would  be  transmitted  over  the  control  axis. 
Therefore,  we  have  within  one  control  medium  the  ability  to  maintain  these 
cars  within  a  lane  and  to  maintain  them  at  a  uniform  standardized  speed. 
Also  it  would  not  be  necessary  to  widen  highways  to  set  up  this  type  of 
invisible  separator  and  control,  as  it  would  be  with  physical  separators.  This 
automatic  control  of  a  car  could  not  be  put  into  the  car  alone  or  into  the 


New  York  Central  Railroad 




highway,  alone.  The  major 
part  will  be  in  the  car,  but  its 
complementary  elements  must 
be  in  the  highway. 

Whether  lanes  of  traffic  are 
segregated  by  physical  sepa- 
rators or  by  some  type 
of  automatic  mechanism, 
lanes  within  the  highway  will 
be  designed  to  permit  traffic 
operation  at  specified,  con- 
trolled speeds.  In  the  case  of 
multi-lane  highways,  it  is  con- 
ceivable that  a  certain  lane 
may  be  designed  for  high- 
speed travel  and  other  lanes 
for  a  lower  speed.  All  the  ad- 
vanced features  of  highway 
design  will  be  incorporated  in 

Norman  Bel  Geddes.  1935 

multi-lane       motorways. 

Separate  strips  of  motorway 
will  be  constructed  for  traffic  flowing  at  different  specific  speeds. 

The  automatically  controlled  motorway  will  provide  for  low,  medium  and 
high  speeds,  and  those  speeds  will  be  mechanically  enforced  so  that  there  will 
be  no  variation  from  them.  Separate  lanes  within  these  strips  will  allow  traffic 
to  move  at  controlled  speeds.  When  you  drive,  you  choose  your  lane  accord- 
ing to  how  fast  you  want  to  go,  and  the  speed  is  automatically  maintained  as 
long  as  you  are  in  that  lane.  The  miles  fly  by  under  your  wheels.  Nothing 


short  of  an  unforeseen  emergency  will  permit  you  to  slow  down.  No  chicken 
or  pedestrian  can  stray  in  from  the  roadside.  The  motorway  is  designed  ex- 
clusively for  the  motorist.  Others  will  be  kept  off  by  physical  barriers,  and 
physical  or  electro-magnetic  separators  hold  you  to  a  carefree,  undeviating 
course  down  the  center  of  your  lane. 

When  you  desire  to  drive  in  a  faster  or  slower  speed  lane,  a  means  is  pro- 
vided for  transferring  from  one  speed  to  another.  At  transition  points,  lo- 
cated at  regular  intervals  on  the  motorway,  the  grass  space  between  groups 
of  speed  lanes  is  broadened  out.  In  this  space  is  a  single-lane  cross-over  channel 
that  permits  a  gradual  approach  from  one  speed  lane  to  another.  It  is  long 
enough  to  allow  your  car  to  accelerate  or  decelerate  to  the  speed  of  the  lane  to 
which  you  are  changing.  Before  the  transition  point  is  reached,  you  press  a 
button  on  your  instrument  panel,  indicating  that  you  want  to  turn  left  or 
right  into  the  next  lane,  just  as  today  you  press  a  button  on  your  radio  to  tune 
in  on  a  station  of  a  particular  wave  length.  When  your  car  reaches  the  en- 
trance to  the  cross-over  channel,  the  controlling  device  in  your  car  picks  up 
and  is  guided  by  the  controlling  forces  from  the  cross-over  channel,  switching 
the  car  from  the  straight-through  lane  into 
this  channel.  Once  on  this  lane,  the  control 
gradually  brings  you  to  the  speed  of  the  new 
lane  in  which  you  are  to  travel.  Similarly  your 
car  is  switched  into  the  new  lane  at  the  junc- 
tion between  it  and  the  cross-over. 

Temporarily  there  may  be  no  space  avail- 
able on  that  lane  because  of  traffic  density. 
When  such  a  condition  exists,  your  car,  start- 
ing to  travel  on  the  cross-over,  is  switched 
into  a  lane  running  between  the  two  groups 



Futurama  Photo  by  General  Motors 



of  speed  lanes  and  parallel  to  them.  On  this  you  slow  down  or  stop,  until  re- 
ceiving a  "clear"  signal,  then  accelerate  and  enter  the  higher-  or  lower-speed 
traffic  lane.  Any  delay  encountered  occasionally  at  a  point  like  this  is  more 
than  compensated  for  by  the  steady,  even  pace  you  are  able  to  maintain  once 
you  are  in  your  desired  speed  lane.  And,  of  course,  there  may  be  no  delay  at  all. 
If  the  lane  is  clear,  you  enter  the  new  lane  without  stopping. 

Whether  you  are  shifting  from  low  speed  to  medium,  medium  to  high,  or 
from  the  higher  speeds  to  the  lower,  this  same  procedure  is  followed.  And  as 
you  enter  a  lane,  you  never  have  to  jam  frantically  on  your  brakes,  fearing 
that  as  you  emerge  into  the  traffic  stream  a  car  may  come  hurtling  at  you. 
When  the  automatic  controls  allow  you  to  make  the  shift,  you  make  it  with 
perfect  safety.  Once  in  the  lane,  cars  move  ahead,  behind  and  on  either  side 
of  you,  but  automatic  lane  separation  and  spacing  make  it  impossible  for  an- 
other car  to  collide  with  you,  sideswipe  you  or  cut  in  ahead  of  you.  Car-to-car 
or  station-to-car  control  keeps  the  automobile  behind  you  at  its  proper  dis- 
tance. You  do  not  need  to  use  your  horn  (with  which  your  car  is  equipped  for 
local  roads)  on  this  motorway,  because  you  never  have  to  pass  a  car.  You 
cannot  go  faster.  The  car  ahead  of  you  cannot  slow  down.  The  car  in  front 
moves  on  at  the  same  speed  as  your  own  because  both  cars  are  traveling  at 
the  automatically  prescribed  speed  within  that  lane.  Before  you  the  road 
is  always  clear,  as  far  as  you  need  to  use  it. 

At  regular  intervals  along  the  motorway  there  are  traffic  control  sta- 
tions. These  may  be  located  about  five  miles  apart.  The  officers  in  each  tower 
have  complete  authority  over  the  section  of  road  two  and  a  half  miles 
on  either  side  of  them.  From  their  vantage  point  they  can  see  the  traffic 
flowing  past  them,  and  with  their  instruments  they  can  communicate  with 
any  car  in  the  territory  under  their  jurisdiction. 

Suppose  that  on  this  motorway  you  run  out  of  gas  or  have  engine  failure 



Kurt  Sell 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


or  a  pump  leak.  A  slowing  down  or  stopped  car  automatically  notifies  the 
two  nearest  traffic  control  towers.  From  either  control  tower  the  stopped  car 
could  probably  be  seen.  It  is  within  two  and  a  half  miles  of  one  or  the  other 
tower.  It  takes  the  cars  in  front  of  you  about  six  minutes  to  clear  the  two  and 
a  half  miles.  Cars  behind  the  stopped  car  would  be  turned  off  into  other 
lanes  of  traffic  if  adjacent  lanes  were  not  at  capacity.  An  emergency  car  from 


the  control  tower  would  immediately  speed  down  the  new  open  lane  and 
would  remove  your  car  from  traffic.  Stoppage  of  traffic  in  this  lane  would 
affect  a  minimum  of  cars  for  a  maximum  of  ten  minutes.  No  glass  would  be 
shattered,  no  cars  crumpled,  no  blood  shed,  no  lives  taken. 

A  motorway  of  this  type,  permitting  constant  high  speeds,  lies  in  the  near 
future.  But  the  ability  to  travel  in  this  manner  already  lies  in  your  car  today. 
It  is  simply  that  disorderly,  congested  traffic  on  roads  originally  designed  for 
wagons  prevents  the  car  from  utilizing  its  potentialities.  But  functional  road 
design  will  cure  this  situation. 



F  A  psychiatrist  were  set  to  work  examining  all  the  occupational  neuroses  of 
the  motorist,  it  might  take  him  years  to  do  the  cataloguing.  But  any  driver 
can  investigate  his  own  lost  temper,  jagged  nerves  and  week-end  nightmares. 
Just  put  him  on  the  open  road  and  he  will  give  his  diagnosis  without  further 
delay.  Wiping  his  brow  he  will  admit  that  the  cause  is  not  complex  or  far  to 
seek;  its  name  is  simply  "frustration." 

The  old  phrase,  "the  open  road,"  always  had  a  pleasant  connotation.  In 
earlier  days  the  roads  bore  so  little  traffic  that  they  were  really  open.  There 
were  no  cars  at  a  standstill  wherever  roads  met.  The  meeting  of  hay  wagons 
at  the  crossing  of  two  farm  roads  was  not  a  serious  traffic  condition.  They 
were  not  moving  fast  enough.  With  the  advent  of  the  automobile,  however, 
a  real  problem  was  created  and  the  solution  to  this  problem  is  a  real  necessity 
in  this  day  of  increasing  traffic  volume.  There  are  many  conditions  under 
which  different  roads  meet,  each  of  them  creating  a  separate  problem;  but 
essentially  the  conditions  fall  into  two  categories — the  junction  and  the  inter- 

[85  1 



A  junction  occurs  when  two  roads  or  lanes 
come  together  without  crossing  one  another. 
The  shape  of  such  junctions  may  take  the  form 
of  a  T  when  roads  join  at  right  angles,  or  may 
form  a  Y  if  they  join  at  an  acute  angle.  Both 
types  are  extremely  common  along  highways 
today.  They  offer  no  great  problem  of  solution 
if  one  of  the  roads  carries  traffic  in  one  direction 
only,  thus  avoiding  left-hand  turns  across  traf- 
fic. But  when  traffic  moves  in  two  directions 
on  both  roads,  it  is  a  very  serious  problem.  For  complete  flexibility  of  traffic 
movement  in  such  a  case,  left-hand  turns  must  be  permitted.  Under  present 
highway  design  practice  this  can  only  be  accomplished  satisfactorily  with 
traffic  lights. 

The  first  problem  which  the  average  motorist  runs  into  every  day  is  right 
at  his  own  driveway,  at  the  junction  where  the  driveway  meets  the  street 
forcing  him  to  make  a  right-angled  turn.  He  wants  to  turn  into  the  street, 
but  he  is  blocked  off  by  traffic  there.  He  gets  off  to  a  slow  start.  When  he  gets 
an  opening,  he  swings  out  into  the  flow  of  traffic,  at  once  becoming  an  ob- 
struction at  his  slower  speed,  due  to  the  small  radius  of  the  turn. 

When  two  or  more  roads  or  streams  of  traffic  come  together  and  cross  each 
other  an  intersection  is  created.  Here  the  driver  has  all  the  difficulties  of  a 
junction — cars  turning  into  each  others'  paths — plus  the  difficulties  of  cars 
crossing  each  others'  paths.  The  simple  definition  of  an  intersection  conceals 
the  confusion  that  may  result  when  at  some  city  square  or  circle  a  half  dozen 
traffic  channels,  of  different  sizes  and  densities,  aim  at  each  other  from  all 
around  the  compass.  The  intersection  is  the  chief  stumbling  block  for  high- 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

way  designers  and  the  chief  headache  for  the  traffic  police.  It  is 
inherently  the  most  heavily  used  point  on  the  highway.  Those 
standards  of  safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy  do  not  find 
very  eloquent  expression  at  that  point.  Every  major  intersection 
is  a  scene  of  contest  or  conflict — usually  supervised  by  an  umpire 
in  the  form  of  a  traffic  light,  assisted  by  one  or  more  traffic 

The  conventional  cross-shaped  intersection  served  its  purpose 
when  conveyances  were  light  and  traffic  was  sparse.  The  old 
mud-and-dust  buggy  crossing,  although  a  relic  of  the  past,  may 
until  recently  have  met  all  needs.  There  are  still  back  roads  where 
that  crossing  is  adequate  if  a  driver  can  look  out  for  the  other 
car  over  a  wide  stretch  of  fields.  The  chance  of  collision  in  thinly 
populated  open  country  is  remote.  Even  if  the  automobile  driver 
slows  down,  his  loss  of  time  is  slight,  and  it  is  not  multiplied  out 
of  all  reason  by  the  resulting  delay  to  hundreds  of  cars  behind 
him.  This  same  driver  will  lose  more  time  and  run  more  risks  at 
intersecting  streets  and  well-paved  highways  guarded  by  traffic 
lights  than  he  will  where  wagon  roads  cross  in  the  fields. 

Why  should  the  crossroads  most  heavily  traveled  today  be  the 
ones  that  are  least  adapted  to  the  safe  flow  of  the  vehicles  that 
use  them?  The  average  car  weighs  about  a  ton  and  a  half.  At 
sixty  miles  an  hour  a  car  would  strike  a  stationary  object  with 
as  much  force  as  if  it  had  been  dropped  from  a  twelve-story 
building,  and  the  chance  that  you  may  strike  or  be  struck  by  one 
of  them  as  you  cross  a  highway  checks  your  speed  at  every  inter- 

Camera  Guild 

i  t  ,.  iiir  i  WHEN   YOU   SEE  YOUR 

The  intersection  problem  is  complicated  by  the  fact  that  it     NEIGHBOR  COMING 


tangles  many  kinds  of  traffic.  It  tangles  pedestrian  traffic,  livestock,  slow  cars, 
fast  cars — which  because  of  their  half  dozen  inherent  different  speeds  cause 
confusion  and  breakdown  of  the  optimum  speed.  Over  and  beyond  that  there 
are  the  many  street  corners  that  have  their  own  particular  human  factor  in 
the  shape  of  the  traffic  cop  and  his  privileges.  The  cop  too  often  exercises  his 
own  idea  of  traffic  control  rather  than  enforcing  a  predetermined  plan.  Street 
corners  have  their  own  quota  of  signs  bearing  directions,  instructions  and 
warnings.  At  railroad  grade-crossings,  sign  language  has  been  particularly 
prevalent.  The  driver  approaches  the  danger-spot — often  hidden  behind  a 
curve — keeping  his  eye  on  the  road.  At  the  same  moment  a  suspended  sign 
tells  him  to  "stop,  look  and  listen."  But  he  can't  keep  his  eye  on  the  road  and 
on  the  signs  too.  The  universal  American  stop  sign  has  a  fatal  tendency  to 
appear  so  frequently  that  it  is  ignored.  Surveys  have  shown  that  six  drivers  out 
of  every  ten  drive  past  them  without  making  a  stop.  Yet,  the  signs  are  the  first 

line  of  defense  of  right-angled  grade  crossings, 
camera  Guild  This  type  of  intersection  occurs  on  three- 
fourths  of  all  the  occasions  when  two  Ameri- 
can thoroughfares  meet.  If  you  put  up  a 
traffic  sign  you  are  putting  your  trust  in  the 
driver's  proper  functioning,  his  willingness  to 
cooperate,  his  individual  sense  of  caution. 
These  are  risky,  unstable  factors  to  rely  upon. 
Large  signs,  clanging  bells,  watchmen  waving 
flags,  and  gates  barring  the  way  are  just  a  few 
of  the  most  common  devices  which  have  been 
tried  at  railroad  crossings  to  abolish  accidents. 
Intersections  should  be  designed  so  that  in- 
stead of  requesting  safety,  they  guarantee  it. 


Human  factors  at  rail- 
road crossings,  even  when 
given  these  aids,  are  de- 
scribed in  many  national 
statistics.  A  single  exam- 
ple may  be  just  as  dra- 
matic. A  study  made  by 
the  Erie  Railroad  of  the 
total  number  of  grade- 
crossing  accidents  along 
its  lines  in  1937  showed:  Acme  AND  TWENTY-TWO  PER  CENT  LOSE 

in  6  per  cent  of  the  cases  the  cars  crashed  through  the  lowered  bars  and  then 
collided  with  a  train;  in  20  per  cent,  the  watchman's  stop  signs  were  ignored; 
in  22  per  cent  the  automobiles  ran  into  the  side  of  the  train.  Nearly  70  per 
cent  of  these  accidents  occurred  at  grade  crossings  protected  by  flashers,  gates 
or  watchmen  and  in  nearly  30  per  cent  of  the  cases,  cars  stalled  in  front  of 
the  train. 

Motorists  and  railroad  authorities  are  aware  of  the  element  of  peril  accom- 
panying the  human  factor.  For  years  there  has  been  agitation,  in  small  town- 
ships as  well  as  in  state  legislatures,  to  eliminate  railroad  grade  crossings. 
About  2000  over-  or  un- 
derpasses  are   built   each 
year.  But  that  figure  pales 
into  insignificance  when 
one  learns  that  over  230,- 
000  primitive  grade  cross- 
ings still  remain.  This  is 
an  average  of  about  one 

Harry  L.  Newman 

FROM  "LIFE"    1907 


grade  crossing  for  each  mile  of  railroad  in  the  country. 

The  practice  of  delaying  half  the  traffic  to  give  the  other  half  a  right  of 
way  goes  back  to  the  earliest  days  of  the  railroad.  The  first  railroads  improved 
upon  the  pace  of  horse-drawn  traffic  but  did  not  improve  on  its  intersection 
design.  The  result  was  train  wrecks.  To  curb  the  incidence  of  murder  at  cross- 
ings, a  Kansas  legislator  drafted  the  following  bill,  and  helped  to  have  it  en- 
acted: "When  two  trains  meet  at  an  intersection  both  shall  come  to  a  full  stop, 
and  neither  shall  proceed  until  the  other  gets  out  of  the  way." 

More  than  half  of  all  intersection  accidents  between  two  automobiles 
occur  at  right-angled  crossings.  At  in  intersection,  the  driver  usually  has  two 
choices:  to  lose  time  but  play  safe  by  stopping  before  the  intersection,  or  to 
save  time  but  take  a  chance  by  going  ahead.  A  fast-moving  vehicle  on  a 
straight  stretch  of  highway  driven  by  a  good  driver  with  a  better  than  average 
reaction  time  requires  a  certain  stopping  distance  when  an  obstacle  appears  in 
its  path.  At  an  intersection  there  is  a  further  complication,  because  the  driver 
now  sees  approaching  at  a  right  angle  another  vehicle  whose  speed  he  must  esti- 
mate. He  must  be  sure  that  his  car  and  the  other  one  will  not  meet  at  the 
intersection  at  the  same  minute  and  he  must  be  sure  of  that  fact  at  a  distance 
from  the  intersection  not  only  dependent  on  his  speed  but  the  estimated  speed 
of  the  opposing  car.  What  is  even  more  vital  is  this:  if  he  does  make  up  his 
mind,  and  the  other  driver  also  makes  up  his  mind,  are  they  going  to  agree?  It 
is  a  worse  gamble  than  throwing  dice.  At  least  in  dice  one  of  the  players  is 
sure  to  win. 

The  last  few  years  have  seen  many  ingenious  attempts  to  coax  surer  re- 
sponses out  of  the  consciousness  of  the  driver  as  he  hurtles,  innocently  or 
absently,  toward  an  intersection.  In  California,  the  approach  to  certain  inter- 
sections has  been  made  intentionally  bumpy,  to  joggle  fast  drivers  into  slowing 
down  before  they  reach  the  crossing.  The  cluster  of  bumps  on  the  road  before  an 


intersection  wakes  up  and  warns  the  sleepy  or  absent-minded  driver.  Another 
idea  is  a  pressed  diamond  pattern  in  the  concrete  at  intersectional  approaches. 
The  rush  of  the  driver's  tires  over  the  pattern  gives  off  a  loud  hum,  distinct 
from  the  sound  of  the  smooth-surfaced  road  with  a  clear  right  of  way,  and 
thus  serves  as  a  reminder. 

But  the  universal  deterrent  is  still  the  traffic  light.  In  its  usual  form  it 
switches  on  and  off,  red  to  green,  with  no  more  than  a  theoretical  regard  for 
the  volume  of  traffic  actually  moving  or  halting  before  it.  It  calls  on  the 
motorist  for  patience,  submission  and  a  waste  of  time,  gas  and  nerves. 

The  Automatic  Signal  Corporation  already  has  perfected  a  system  which 
has  reduced  these  nuisances.  A  unit  buried  in  the  road  operates  the  traffic 
lights  as  a  car  passes  over  it.  The  device  can  be  set  so  that  the  light  can  remain 
fixed  for  any  interval  desired.  After  that  period,  which  may  be  long  enough 
for  several  cars  to  pass  through,  it  changes.  A  car  running  over  the  device  im- 
mediately after  this  change  cannot  trip  the  signal  again  until  a  certain  time 
has  elapsed.  The  fixed  interval  is  dependent  on  the  traffic  volume,  the  period 
being  longer  on  the  highway  with  the  greatest  density.  Besides  this  system,  an 
electro-magnetic  device  is  in  extensive  use,  which  functions  similarly,  but  the 
activating  mechanism  is  a  roller  set  flush  in  the  road  surface. 

There  have  been  reformers  and  idealists  in  the  cause  of  stop-and-go  lights. 
As  early  as  1916,  Ernest  P.  Goodrich  and  others  began  to  advocate  the  use  of 
signals  so  systematized  that  if  a  motorist  drove  at  a  stipulated,  uniform  speed, 
he  would  find  all  the  lights  green  as  he  approached  them.  Two  types  of  this 
system  for  continuous  movement  of  cars  have  been  devised.  In  one,  all  lights 
on  one  street  change  at  the  same  time,  but  these  lights  are  grouped,  say,  three 
greens  together,  then  three  reds.  The  second  type,  a  flexible  progressive  system, 
was  first  installed  in  the  Chicago  Loop  area  in  1926.  Under  this  system,  the 
length  of  time  allotted  to  the  green  light  is  adjusted  to  the  stipulated  speed  of 


cars  approaching  it  and  also  to  the  length  of  the  block  down  which  they  travel. 
It  is  considerably  more  expensive  to  install  and  maintain  than  the  simpler 
system,  but  it  comes  nearer  to  providing  what  is  necessary — a  steady  flow  of 
traffic  all  along  our  highways. 

Beyond  such  ingenious  devices  lie  the  solutions  which  do  away  with  traffic 
lights  entirely.  When  the  driver  approaches  what  he  knows  will  be  a  busy 
intersection,  it  is  a  pleasant  surprise,  instead  of  having  to  jam  on  the  brakes  at 
the  flash  of  a  red  light,  to  find  himself  routed  upon  a  circular  roadway  from 
which  four  highways  radiate.  He  wants  to  turn  left,  but  he  is  deflected  to  the 
right  around  the  traffic  circle.  Two  cars  are  immediately  ahead  of  him.  He 
sees  one  of  them  turn  out  to  complete  a  right-hand  turn,  and  the  other  turn 
right  at  the  half-way  point  to  continue  in  the  original  direction  before  the 
circle  was  reached.  His  own  car  goes  three-quarters  of  the  way  around  before 
it  completes  the  left  turn.  Only  when  he  is  out  of  the  circle  does  he  realize  that 
two-directional  traffic  from  four  points  of  the  compass  went  around  that 
rotary  simultaneously  and  no  car  stopped.  All  cars  moved  in  the  same  direc- 
tion, so  there  could  be  no  head-on  crashes.  Right-angle  collisions  are  a  possibil- 
ity at  the  junctions  of  the  thoroughfares  with  the  circle.  However,  the  risk 
of  rear-end  and  sideswiping  complications  is  considerable.  Progress  around 
the  rotary  is  slow,  for  all  cars  have  to  weave  from  lane  to  lane  and  are  slowed 
down  by  the  cars  feeding  in  ahead.  The  rotary  is  not  a  final  solution. 

Traffic  circles  such  as 
these  have  been  intro- 
duced into  rural  highways 
quite  recently,  but  they 
were  employed  in  city 
street  design  long  before 
there  was  any  motor  traf  - 


E.  Donald  Sterner,  New  Jersey  Highway  Commissioner 

fie  at  all.  Monument  Circle  in  Indianapolis  was  designed  in  1821,  by  Ralston, 
an  assistant  of  Major  L'Enfant.  It  is  now  used  by  as  many  as  2000  cars  an 
hour,  and  serves  as  the  terminal  for  all  the  city  bus  lines.  The  four  smaller 
"islands"  at  the  entrance  to  each  of  the  four  avenues  radiating  from  the  circle 
serve  pedestrians  and  act  to  turn  traffic  to  its  proper  course.  The  comparatively 
large  size  of  the  central  circle  is  highly  desirable  for  rotary  traffic,  but  it  is  also 
important  to  have  wide  curves  where  traffic  turns  into  the  circle.  In  this  in- 
stance, the  curb  radius  at  these  corners  is  only  fifteen  feet.  As  the  minimum 
turning  radius  of  American  cars  varies  from  seventeen  to  twenty-six  feet, 
none  can  make  this  turn,  no  matter  at  what  speed,  without  edging  over  into 
the  path  of  cars  to  the  left. 

The  rotary  circle  located  in  rural  highways  where  traffic  is  intermittent 
allows  for  a  constant  and  steady  flow  of  traffic  at  all  times.  Although  such 
traffic  may  have  to  slow  up  somewhat  due  to  the  limited  radius  of  the  circle  as 
generally  built,  such  traffic  can  at  least  move      INDIANAPOLIS'  FAMOUS  MONUMENT  DOESN'T 
through  the  intersection  without  danger  of 
serious  collision.  If  these  radii  were  increased 
to  the  comparable  speed  of  the  traffic,  slowing 
down  would  not  be  necessary.  Also  if  route 
directions  were  supplied  to  the  driver  before 
he  reached  the  traffic  circle,  much  of  the  con- 
fusion  and   retardation  of   the   traffic   flow 
within  the  circle,  due  to  the  attention  of  the 
driver  being  diverted  when  looking  for  direc- 
tion signs,  would  be  eliminated.  Traffic  circles 
handling  large  volumes  of  traffic  are  very  in- 
efficient due  to  the  weaving  from  lane  to  lane 
in  dense  traffic. 



Portland  Cement  Assn. 

Constant  and  steady  flow  results  only  when  conflicting  currents  of  moving 
traffic  are  really  segregated.  This  can  be  obtained  by  overpasses  and  under- 
passes which  provide  a  high  degree  of  safety.  The  best  commentary,  for  ex- 
ample, on  the  elimination  of  railroad  grade  crossings  is  that  from  1928  to 
1939 — although  the  number  of  cars  using  the  road  has  increased  by  over  five 
million — the  number  of  fatalities  at  crossings  has  decreased  by  40  per  cent. 
To  most  people  overpasses  and  underpasses  for  roadways  are  welcome  new 
departures.  But  actually  they  are  not  so  new.  These  ideas,  along  with  other 
very  sophisticated  methods  of  traffic  control,  were  used  over  eighty  years  ago. 

Most  people  who  today  use  the  segregated  footpaths,  bridle  paths,  prom- 
enades, and  cross-town  arteries  of  New  York's  Central  Park  have  never  heard 
the  names  Frederick  Law  Olmstead  and  Calvert  Vaux.  Least  of  all  do  they 
realize  that  the  park  was  laid  out  in  the  pre- jigsaw  days  of  1858,  and  that 
Olmstead's  and  Vaux's  designing  was  so  sound  and  so  prophetic  that  it  has 
never  had  to  be  subjected  to  major  changes.  Pedestrian  and  vehicular  traffic 
in  Central  Park  are  separated,  to  their  mutual  advantage.  There  are  meander- 
ing pleasure  paths,  but  there  are  also  straight  channels  for  commercial  traffic 
to  cross  the  park  by  the  most  direct  route.  Slow  traffic  is  not  endangered  and 
fast  traffic  is  not  impeded.  One  is  completely  segregated  from  the  other.  Olm- 


stead's  and  Vaux's  plan  also  provided  for  a  uniform  directional  flow  of  traffic 
moving  counterclockwise  through  the  park  without  intersectional  delay. 
With  such  a  history  of  daring  innovations,  Central  Park  could  well  have  be- 
come the  public  school  for  several  generations  of  American  highway  engineers. 
To  sum  up:  two  ideas  have  taken  hold  in  modern  intersectional  design. 
First  is  that  of  the  overpass  or  underpass  which  makes  it  possible  to  drive 
straight  through  an  intersection  at  full  speed.  Second  is  that  of  the  traffic 

Underwood  &  Underwood 


circle  which  makes  it  possible  to  turn  from  one  road  into  another  without  a 
stop.  It  was  inevitable  that  these  two  ideas  should  be  combined.  The  result  is 
the  "cloverleaf "  intersection.  The  complete  cloverleaf  pattern  provides  sepa- 
rate channels  for  through  traffic,  right-  and  left-hand  turns.  Through  traffic 
keeps  straight  on  over  or  under  the  other  road.  A  right  turn  is  made  on  the 
diagonal  to  the  right  of  the  driver.  To  make  a  left  turn,  the  driver  continues 
on  the  through  traffic  lane  to  the  far  side  of  the  underpass,  turns  right,  and 


E.  Donald  Sterner,  New  Jersey  Highway  Commissioner 


makes  a  complete  circle  along  the  border  of  one  of  the  four  leaves  which  are 
ramped,  connecting  lower  and  upper  road  levels. 

In  comparison  with  an  ordinary  intersection,  it  is  manifestly  a  very  superior 
but  expensive  structure.  When  built  at  the  crossing  of  two  heavily  traveled 
highways  it  may  result  in  a  saving  of  countless  vehicle  hours  a  year,  as  well  as 
innumerable  lives.  But  it  is  not  the  final  solution.  Although  there  is  no  light 
to  stop  the  traffic,  the  left  turn  has  to  be  constructed  with  such  a  sharp 
curve  that  cars  must  reduce  speed  to  between  eight  and  ten  miles  an  hour  to 
turn  left  safely.  For  an  individual  driver,  this  loss  of  speed  may  represent 
nothing  more  than  an  annoyance.  But  if  traffic  in  the  right-hand  lane  is  heavy, 
the  reduced  speed  of  the  car  making  a  left-hand  turn  is  reflected  back  to  the 
rest  of  the  cars  behind,  and  the  old  familiar  wasteful  traffic  jam  appears  again. 

If  an  intersection  was  crucial  to  a  motorist  yesterday,  it  was  not  because 
his  car  was  fast,  but  because  it  was  not  dependable.  His  brakes  were  not  good  ; 
they  might  make  him  coast  across  the  road  when  traffic  was  against  him.  His 


engine  might  stall  as  he  crossed.  The  problem  today  is  not  the  physical  fact  of 
difficulty  in  crossing  streams  of  traffic,  but  those  continual  slight  pauses  of  a 
minute  or  so — the  equivalent  of  miles  of  travel.  The  solution  is  a  continuous 
flow  of  traffic  with  speed  and  safety. 

In  place  of  the  present  system  of  prohibitive  and  directive  control,  there 
should  be  a  system  that  functions  automatically.  Such  a  system  includes  both 
the  highway  and  the  driver.  The  highway,  ideally  designed,  must  be  self- 
functioning;  and  the  driver  must  function  easily  as  part  of  it. 

Look  ahead  twenty  years  to  a  picture  of  the  crossing  point  of  two  major 
two-directional  highway  routes.  Here  seven  lanes  of  traffic  move  in  four  di- 
rections safely,  easily,  and  with  no  diminution  of  speed. 

The  straight-ahead,  free  movement  of  through  traffic  on  all  lanes  is  accom- 
plished by  use  of  the  underpass.  Both  right  and  left  turns  are  made  at  fifty- 
mile  speed  only,  on  additional  lanes  entirely  separate  from  those  carrying  the 
through  traffic.  The  motorways  incorporate  automatically  controlled  speed 
reduction  points  enabling  cars  to  reduce  to  fifty  miles  an  hour  before  reaching 
the  intersection  approaches.  A  driver  desiring  to  turn  right  onto  the  crossing 
motorway  must  be  in  the  right  lane  of  the  fif  ty-mile-an-hour  group.  The  auto- 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


matic  motorway  control  provides  for  his  crossing  safely  into  this  lane.  At  a 
point  approximately  two  and  a  half  miles  from  the  intersection  his  car  is  eased 
to  the  right  out  of  the  through- traffic  flow  and  he  travels  along  a  paralleling 
lane  which  becomes  a  ramped  curve  to  the  right.  The  grade  is  easy,  the  gener- 
ous curve  scarcely  perceptible.  As  this  curving  lane  nears  the  crossing  motor- 
way it  straightens  out,  and  the  car  traveling  over  it  gradually  flows  into  the 
outside  fifty-mile  through- traffic  lane.  If  a  driver  on  the  motorway  wants  to 
make  a  left  turn  at  one  of  these  intersections,  he  must  do  so  from  the  left  fifty- 
mile  lane.  From  this  lane  he  diverges  to  the  left  into  a  separate  parallel  lane, 
speeds  along  on  a  gently  ramping  curve  sweeping  to  the  left,  parallels  the  cross- 
ing motorway  and  gradually  merges  into  a  space  in  the  flow  of  cars  moving 


in  the  innermost  fifty-mile  lane.  Speed  and  spacing  on  this  intersection  are 
controlled  automatically  and  there  is  no  interference  with  the  motorway 
traffic.  The  turning-off  lanes  are  elevated  or  depressed  so  that  there  is  no  inter- 
ference. This  new  type  of  intersection  occupies  no  greater  area  than  the  clover- 
leaf  of  1940,  when  the  proportion  of  the  motorway  and  its  capacity  of  traffic 
in  comparison  with  present-day  roads  are  taken  into  consideration. 

Although  the  cost  of  constructing  such  an  intersection  would  be  consider- 
ably more  than  that  of  constructing  today's  cloverleaf,  that  too  costs  more 
than  the  intersection  of  former  times;  and  where  traffic  is  heavy  there  is  an  in- 
crease in  safety,  speed,  comfort,  and  economy  that  is  as  great  as  that  provided 
by  the  cloverleaf  over  previous  intersections.  The  economy  in  this  case  is  not 
derived  from  a  reduction  in  original  construction  costs,  but  from  a  very  real, 
cumulative  dollars-and-cents  saving  to  the  motorists  who  use  it. 

In  discussing  the  problems  of  traffic  on  the  highways,  in  the  preceding 
chapter,  it  was  pointed  out  that  physical  means  built  into  the  highway  are 
possible  solutions  for  overcoming  the  dangers  of  traffic  and  the  retardation  of 

Norman  Bel  Geddes,  1935  TRAFFIC    FLOW   ON    MOTORWAY    INTERSECTION 


traffic  flow;  but  that  the  adaptation  of  advanced  scientific  principles  to  pro- 
vide a  guide  operating  completely  automatically  in  conjunction  with  the 
highway  and  the  car  offered  the  only  solution  to  the  traffic  problem  on  a 
straight  stretch  of  highway.  Similar  dangerous  and  inefficient  traffic  condi- 
tions exist  in  regard  to  the  highway  intersection.  To  alleviate  these  conditions 
it  is  possible  to  build  an  advanced  type  of  highway  intersection  such  as  that 
just  described. 

Suppose  for  a  minute  that  all  cars  on  a  highway  operated  on  a  cog  track, 
within  the  road  surface;  that  they  were  spaced  equal  distances  apart  on  all 
highways,  and  that  they  were  driven  on  this  cog  track  at  equal  speeds.  With 
such  a  physically  controlled  system  it  would  be  possible  at  an  intersection  to 
control  the  cars  on  one  highway  to  make  them  pass  through  the  spaces  between 
cars  on  the  crossing  highway  and  vice  versa,  with  complete  safety  and  at  any 
speed.  This  same  control  can  be  obtained  by  adapting  the  electro-magnetic 
control  utilized  for  regulating  the  car  speed  and  spacing  along  uninterrupted 
stretches  of  highway.  The  application  of  such  automatic  control  to  the  inter- 
section would  provide  for  continuous  infiltration  of  the  two  crossing  streams 
of  traffic,  both  streams  of  traffic  operating  continuously  at  constant  speed, 
without  interruption,  and  without  physical  separation. 

Infiltration  is  a  military  term  used  to  denote  a  method  of  attack  by  which 
the  attacking  troops  sift  through  the  enemy  line  and  are  re-formed  when  the 
objective  is  reached.  This  word  "infiltration"  aptly  describes  the  operation  of 
an  automatic  control  of  intersecting  traffic.  The  method  of  providing  a  con- 
tinuous and  uninterrupted  flow  of  through  traffic  at  any  intersection  is  based 
on  the  automatic  regulation  of  uniform  spacing  of  cars  in  their  respective 
lanes  and  the  maintenance  of  a  constant  speed  in  all  lanes.  Added  to  this  funda- 
mental requirement  is  the  need  for  control  between  cars  in  different  lanes  and 
the  correlation  of  the  control  mechanism  of  the  intersecting  highways. 


One  factor  important  to  this  concept  and  important  to  all  traffic  flow  is 
that  maneuvering  and  turning  lanes  are  outside  and  apart  from  through  lanes. 
As  rural  highways  approach  an  intersection  they  should  be  widened  by  one 
lane  on  each  side  to  provide  for  this.  In  the  case  of  urban  streets  where  such 
widening  is  impossible,  it  is  necessary  to  keep  the  outside  or  curb  lane  free  of 
parked  cars  and  through  traffic  in  order  that  this  lane  be  always  available 
for  maneuvering.  Also  important  is  the  radius  of  curves  used  on  intersecting 
highways.  They  should  be  of  sufficient  magnitude  to  permit  cars  turning  from 
one  route  into  the  other  without  reducing  speed.  Present-day  city  streets  with 
their  small  curb  radii  will  not  allow  this,  so  that  turns  must  be  made  at  re- 
duced speeds. 

With  these  physical  requirements  and  means  of  automatic  control,  any 
type  of  intersection  or  junction  at  grade  can  be  made  safe  and  efficient.  Cars 
traveling  directly  through  an  intersection  remain  on  the  straight  through 
lanes  of  the  highway  and  maintain  their  speed  and  direction  without  change 
and  without  interruption.  They  weave  through  spaces  provided  between  the 
cars  in  the  crossing  traffic.  This  process  of  infiltration  or  cross-weaving  goes 
on  continuously.  Uniform  car-to-car  spacing  and  speed  are  maintained  in 
both  directions  at  all  times.  The  parallel  maneuvering  lanes  lead  directly  into 
the  curves  necessary  for  making  a  right-hand  turn.  Here,  too,  there  is  no 
interruption  and  a  car,  after  taking  the  curve,  automatically  flows  into  the 
line  of  through  traffic  in  the  new  direction  which  it  desires  to  take.  This 
maneuver  is  no  different  from  that  which  would  take  place  on  the  physically 
separated  type  of  intersection  previously  described. 

Cars  proposing  to  make  a  left-hand  turn  will  also  draw  over  into  the  right- 
hand  maneuvering  lane  but  instead  of  following  the  sweeping  curve  to  the 
right  will  continue  straight  ahead.  At  a  designated  point  in  this  lane,  the  car 
will  automatically  start  a  left  turn.  In  making  this  turn,  it  will  cross  the 



.    .1 



v        3    / 





i                         t 




V                   / 











36  SEC 




through  lanes  of  traffic  to  reach  the  maneuvering  lane  parallel  to  the  lanes  of 
traffic  which  travel  in  the  new  direction  which  the  car  is  to  take.  From  the 
maneuvering  lane  the  car  will  flow  into  the  regular  traffic  stream.  Again,  this 
infiltration  process  is  made  possible  by  the  correlation  of  the  control  method 
provided  in  each  lane  of  traffic. 

It  becomes  necessary  to  provide  accurate  predetermined  spacing  of  cars, 
and  to  maintain  uniform  speed  in  each  lane  as  well  as  in  each  of  the  intersect- 
ing highways,  and  a  definite  and  fixed  relation  between  these  factors  in  each 
of  the  lanes  of  traffic.  When  that  is  done,  this  type  of  intersection  can  be 
applied,  regardless  of  the  number  of  lanes  operating  in  the  highway,  and 
regardless  of  the  speed  of  travel  in  these  lanes. 

A  free-flowing  traffic  system  necessarily  must  consider  the  small  with  the 
great;  it  must  solve  all  the  problems  that  are  an  everyday  occurrence  to  every 
driver  of  a  car.  The  retardation  to  the  smooth  flow  of  traffic  on  the  highways 
and  streets  of  this  country  starts  way  back  at  the  smallest  intersection  and 
progressively  gets  worse  as  the  volume  of  traffic  increases. 

In  spite  of  the  fact  that  the  problems  at  the  large  intersection  are  more 
obvious  than  they  are  at  the  small  crossroad,  the  curative  measures  needed 
in  both  situations  are  similar.  They  may  differ  in  detail  and  degree,  but  they 





s               / 



s       5 




TIME  2 

04  SEC. 

TIME  2 

95  SEC 


Norman  Bel  Geddes.  1938 


should  be  examined  from  the  same  viewpoint.  In  all  intersections,  the  follow- 
ing standards  should  be  maintained:  i)  the  radii  of  the  curves  should  be 
adapted  to  the  prescribed  speed  on  the  intersecting  roads  so  that  speed  can  be 
maintained  without  interruption;  2)  the  view  from  every  direction  should 
extend  far  enough  so  that  all  approaching  cars  will  be  plainly  visible;  3) 
curves  should  be  banked  to  facilitate  comfortable  maintenance  of  speed;  4) 
wherever  practicable,  a  car  control  system  should  operate  which  will  provide 
for  the  infiltration  of  traffic  without  interruption. 

Every  intersection  in  the  country  today  is  obsolete  because  the  fundamental 
precepts  of  traffic  flow — safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy — are  not  con- 
sidered as  a  unit  but  are  chosen  as  separate  items  on  which  to  base  new  develop- 
ments. One  intersection  considers  safety  only  as  its  foundation,  neglecting 
the  other  vital  considerations;  another  is  constructed  under  the  rules  of  com- 
fort. Rarely  are  both  safety  and  economy  of  time  built  into  the  same  traffic 
crossing.  And  as  long  as  these  fundamentals  are  allowed  to  be  broken  up,  just 
so  long  will  intersections  remain  obsolete. 



is  a  bottleneck?  It  isn't  just 
congestion.  Congestion  is  a  general  term- 
some  thing  that  applies  to  the  forty-eight  states, 
with  special  application  to  Greater  New  York, 
greater  Los  Angeles,  Detroit  and  a  good  many 
other  greater  and  lesser  places.  A  bottleneck 
is  something  specific — a  narrowing  space  caus- 
ing convergence,  like  a  funnel.  A  bottleneck 
is  a  special  phase  of  the  problem  of  converging 
traffic.  It  is  the  place  where  a  greater  number 
of  traffic  lanes  funnel  up  to  a  given  point  than 
there  are  lanes  available  to  take  the  resulting 
volume  beyond  the  point.  No  highway  en- 
gineer would  consciously  design  a  bottleneck. 
Yet  there  are  so  many  varieties  of  the  species 
that  they  bear  classification. 

Camera  Guild 



Portland  Cement  Assn. 


One  of  the  most  frequent  might  be  called  the  "county-line  bottleneck." 
This  occurs  when  a  fine  glittering  four-lane  highway  suddenly  stops,  like  the 
end  of  an  expression  of  local  pride,  at  an  invisible  boundary.  The  implication 
seems  to  be  that  there  is  no  point  in  driving  farther.  It  happens  because  some- 
one has  planned  a  four-lane  road  in  one  county,  and  the  next  county  joins  it 
with  just  a  two-lane  road.  It  is  due  to  lack  of  coordinated  planning.  Beyond 
the  line  the  road  may  become  a  two-lane  macadam  job,  of  pre-Prohibition 

Type  two  is  the  "detour  bottleneck."  That  occurs  when  road  repair  work — 
widening  or  reconstruction — blocks  either  part  or  all  of  the  roadway.  In  the 
first  instance,  two  lanes  of  traffic  have  to  fight  their  way  through  one.  In  the 
second,  traffic  is  turned  off  into  the  busy  wilderness  known  as  a  detour.  The 
detour  road,  it  seems,  is  never  as  good  as  the  regular  road.  Even  if  the  detour 
has  adequate  width,  cars  are  inevitably  slowed  down  due  to  one  reason  or 
another,  which  soon  affects  those  far  back  along  the  regular  road.  It  is  only 
temporary,  but  it  is  a  bottleneck  just  the  same. 

Type  three  might  be  termed  the  "big  building  bottleneck."  A  department 
store  in  a  crowded  section  of  town  prospers.  After  it  has  added  escalators  and 
sub-basements,  it  takes  on  extra  stories  and  a  series  of  annexes.  On  the  morn- 
ings of  special  sales,  there  is  a  pedestrian  queue  outside  the  building  all  around 
the  block.  Twice  as  many  customers  are  entering  the  store  as  did  five  years 
ago.  In  that  period  the  number  of  trucks  backing  up  to  the  receiving  entrances 


has  doubled.  Likewise  the  number  of  delivery  trucks. 
But  during  all  this  growth,  no  change  has  been  made 
in  the  street  pattern  around  the  store.  The  streets  re- 
tain the  same  form  and  capacity  as  they  did  five  years 
ago  when  the  store  did  half  as  much  business. 

Type  four,  by  now  renowned  in  song  and  story,  is 
the  "stadium  bottleneck."  It  occurs  in  short  but  fre- 
quent and  very  dramatic  periods  on  Saturday  after- 
noons, holidays,  and  special  occasions  around  such 
places  of  pilgrimage  as  the  Yale  Bowl,  Soldier  Field, 
or  the  Olympic  Stadium  in  Los  Angeles.  At  three 
o'clock  a  hundred  thousand  people  are  herding  toward 
a  flag-topped  amphitheater.  At  five  o'clock  they  are 
herding  out  of  it.  The  stadium  has  been  designed  for 
just  such  mass  movement.  It  is  usually  emptied,  with- 
out fuss  or  casualty,  within  fifteen  minutes  after  the 
final  whistle.  But  the  roads  around  it  were  not  de- 
signed for  such  movement.  Los  Angeles  may  say  that 
since  the  University  doesn't  pay  taxes  on  its  land  there 
is  no  reason  why  citizens  should  spend  millions  to  make 
the  football  fans  comfortable.  In  the  meantime,  the 
answer  to  a  hundred  thousand  people  is — a  hundred 
traffic  cops.  This  type  of  bottleneck  could  have  been 
prevented  by  good  planning  when  the  approaches  were 
built.  The  traffic  problem  around  the  stadium  is  as 
much  a  pedestrian  one  as  a  motor  car  problem.  A  bot- 
tleneck does  not  merely  apply  to  motor  cars.  A  street 
in  a  large  city,  that  passes  a  public  school  from  which 



thousands  of  children  surge  forth  twice  daily,  is  a  very  dangerous  bottleneck. 

Everyone  has  his  own  favorite  roadway  funnel.  Like  the  fisherman  boast- 
ing of  his  catch,  he  may  be  inclined  to  gloat  sardonically  over  the  length  of  the 
stream  of  cars  trying  to  get  through  that  particular  edge  of  hell.  The  high- 
pressure  commuters  of  Westchester  County,  New  York,  have  a  regional 
record  in  the  bottleneck  at  Fleetwood,  where  the  four-lane  artery  connecting 
two  great  new  parkways  suddenly  humps,  drops  down  a  steep  grade,  and 
corkscrews  into  a  two-lane  bridge  spanning  the  New  York  Central  tracks. 
What  makes  this  contender  for  the  questionable  record  dramatic  is  that  traffic 
approaching  it  comes  upon  it  unexpectedly,  after  having  become  accustomed 
to  miles  of  easy  high-speed  highway  travel.  The  traffic  which  had  gradually 
loosened  up  and  spread  out  is  suddenly  telescoped,  jamming  and  sputtering  on 
the  steep  grades  to  the  bridgehead  almost  in  the  character  of  a  camel  trying 
to  push  through  the  eye  of  a  needle. 

There  is  no  use  going  on  classifying.  The  engineering  features  of  the  Hol- 
land Tunnel  are  excellent,  as  has  been  previously  pointed  out;  its  service  dur- 
ing moderate  traffic  conditions  is  adequate;  but  due  to  its  multiple  approaches 
it  also  is  a  perfect  bottleneck.  The  cause  here  was  high  engineering  costs. 
Removal  of  natural  barriers  involved  such  immense  expenditure  that  it  was 

decided  to  keep  the  tun- 

TWENTY-SEVEN   LANES  TRYING  TO  GET  INTO  TWO  LANES  Port  of  New  York  Authority       nej    cJQWn    tQ    a    tWQ   Jane 

system.  But  the  lanes  that 
approach  it  do  not  add  up 
to  two.  They  are  so  many 
in  number  and  capacity 
that  at  peak  hours  they 
develop  a  volume  of  traf- 
fic that  cannot  be  com- 

pressed    into     the     tunnel    without    considerable    delay    and    confusion. 

One  of  the  most  common  forms  of  bottleneck  occurs  at  bridgeheads  and 
is  essentially  the  same  as  that  created  at  the  tunnel  entrance.  At  the  fag  end 
of  holidays  or  week-ends,  almost  everyone  has  been  exposed  time  after  time, 
summer  after  summer,  to  that  most  dismal  of  all  motoring  experiences:  driv- 
ing back  to  the  city  across  a  bridge.  It  need  not  be  a  drawbridge,  where  delay 
can  be  understood.  It  may  be  a  big  suspension  bridge  which  is  inadequate  to 
handle  its  traffic.  While  you  are  still  miles  away,  the  car  ahead  of  you  and  the 
cars  ahead  of  that,  on  and  on  to  the  unseen  bridge,  slow  down.  You  drive  as 
close  together  as  freight  cars,  though  not  as  fast  as  the  slowest  freight.  It  is  not 
driving.  Hopelessly  often,  it  is  a  dead  halt.  There  is  no  splendor  in  the  sunset. 
All  the  fun  is  drained  out  of  the  holiday.  You  are  numbed  to  any  emotion 
except  exasperation. 

No  one  on  the  road  seems  to  be  getting  anywhere.  Fenders  scrape,  collars 
wilt  and  reaching  the  bridge  becomes  not  a  matter  of  minutes  but  of  hours. 
There  is  no  compensating  pleasure  once  you  come  upon  it,  long  after  night- 
fall. Like  every  car  ahead,  you  await  your  turn  for  this  precious  road  space 
arched  across  the  water.  Other  lines  of  traffic  feed  slowly  in  before  you  have 
a  chance  at  it.  Then,  you  are  on  the  bridge.  Harried  drivers  are  still  picking 
their  opportunity  to  slip  into  a  faster  moving  lane,  despite  warning  signs  to 
the  contrary.  Outgoing  traffic  is  cut  to  a  minimum,  but  still  cars  from  the 
overcrowded  incoming  lanes  encroach  upon  it. 

Just  as  the  pace  of  highway  development  has  not  kept  up  with  the  pace  of 
automobile  development,  so  it  is  true  that  bridge  development  has  not  kept  up 
with  highway  development.  Most  of  America's  tens  of  thousands  of  bridges 
were  built  in  the  era  of  slower  traffic  moving  on  a  two-lane  road.  When  the 
time  came,  the  road  was  widened.  Traffic  sped  up.  But  it  wasn't  such  an  easy 
matter  to  widen  a  bridge.  Perhaps  the  bridge  should  have  been  replaced  en- 


tirely.  Maybe  the  Highway  Commission  couldn't  afford  such  an  item  that 
year.  The  road  was  built,  but  the  bridge  was  postponed.  The  result  is  that  the 
high-speed  traffic  which  has  been  flowing  for  miles  along  the  highway  sud- 
denly has  to  slow  down  at  the  bridgehead  with  the  inevitable  jam  of  cars 
approaching  the  bridge. 

The  State  of  Indiana,  for  example,  has  not  ignored  the  work  of  highway 
improvement.  In  the  past  few  years  it  has  widened  1800  miles  of  state  high- 
way— the  major  roads  to  100  feet  and  the  secondary  roads  to  80  feet.  But 
the  Chairman  of  its  State  Highway  Commission  complains  that  nearly  2000 
bridges  and  culverts  along  the  system  are  so  narrow  that  they  alone  cause  great 
delay  and  many  deaths  each  year.  To  replace  them  by  adequate  structures,  he 
says,  would  cost- about  25  billion  dollars. 

Just  how  the  lag  operates  is  shown  by  the  story  of  the  Queensboro  Bridge, 
opened  in  1909  to  carry  a  fast-growing  volume  of  traffic  between  midtown 
Manhattan  and  developments  on  Long  Island.  At  first  it  had  three  lanes ;  then 
two  more  were  added.  In  1931  an  upper  deck  was  opened,  giving  the  bridge  a 
total  of  seven  lanes.  This  sounded  like  continual  improvement.  But  at  the 
same  time  there  were  repeated  efforts  to  open  up  and  spread  out  the  bridge's 
approach  plazas.  While  city  officials  were  struggling  with  approach  property 
and  while  the  bridge  was  taking  on  a  lane  here  and  there,  the  lanes  feeding  the 
bridge  were  increasing  at  a  much  greater  rate.  Today  there  are,  estimated  con- 
servatively, six  streets  or  twenty- four  lanes  on  each  side  of  the  river.  Easily 
more  than  fifty  lanes  of  traffic  feed  into  this  bridge  from  both  ends.  The 
bridge  has  only  seven  lanes  to  cope  with  the  situation.  This  is  the  situation  to- 
day, and  settlements  are  still  rising  by  the  hundreds  on  Long  Island.  The 
approach  land,  not  bought  in  time,  is  now  prohibitive  in  cost.  The  Queensboro 
Bridge  will  never  be  able  to  cope  with  this  problem. 

Famous  spans  like  this  or  the  Eads  Bridge  at  St.  Louis  were  built  to  meet 


the  conditions  and  requirements  that  prevailed  at  the  time  they  were  designed. 
Their  designs  did  not  anticipate  the  automotive  era.  Conditions  have  changed 
entirely.  The  old  roadways  which  were  built  to  meet  those  conditions  have 
perhaps  been  replaced,  but  the  bridges  linger  on  because  financially  they 
obsolesce  far  more  slowly  than  any  other  highway  structure.  It  takes  sixty  to 
eighty  years  to  amortize  a  bridge.  The  obvious  conclusion  is  that  bridges  de- 
signed today  should  not  be  planned  just  for  today's  needs.  They  should  take 
into  consideration  all  the  possible  needs  that  may  arise  during  their  lifetime 

Underwood  &  Underwood 


— a  life  that  is  likely  to  exceed  the  classically  allotted  three-score  and  ten. 

The  Bay  Bridge  at  San  Francisco  consists  of  two  decks,  with  six  lanes  for 
high-speed  automobile  traffic  on  the  top  deck,  and  three  lanes  for  bus  and 
truck  traffic  on  the  lower  deck,  which  is  also  designed  to  carry  an  electric 
railway  line.  But  perhaps  the  key  fact  about  the  bridge  is  not  the  bridge  itself 
but  what  happens  before  one  gets  to  it.  There  are  four  and  a  half  miles  of 
approaches.  They  include  ramps  leading  on  and  off,  overpasses  and  underpasses 
to  avoid  intersecting  traffic,  and  on  the  Oakland  side  a  distribution  system 
which  goes  beyond  the  modern  cloverleaf  pattern.  The  intention  of  the  design- 


»•  *  • 


International  News 

ers  was  to  get  an  immense  volume  of  traffic  across  the  bridge  quickly,  without 
slowing  down.  In  the  first  full  year  of  operation,  9,109,349  vehicles  made  the 
crossing.  Planning  had  worked. 

The  Bay  Bridge  is  not  especially  broad,  as  great  spans  go.  There  is  a  lesson 
in  that.  When  one  sees  a  congested  bridge,  one  is  likely  to  think  the  trouble 
is  that  it  is  too  narrow;  the  real  trouble  is  that  it  does  not  have  enough  lanes. 
The  earliest  covered  bridges  suggested  the  possibility  of  increasing  the  height 
of  a  bridge  rather  than  its  width.  A  two-decker  bridge  is  a  rarity  in  our  midst. 
But  there  is  no  reason  why  we  should  be  limited  even  to  two  decks. 

Bottlenecks  within  our  highway  system  can  only  be  eliminated  or  avoided 
by  a  comprehensive  and  long-range  planning  program.  County-line  bottle- 
necks would  not  occur  if  there  were  cooperative  highway  planning  between 
adjoining  counties.  Detour  bottlenecks  would  not  exist  if  highway  construc- 
tion undertakings  were  adequately  planned  before  construction  started,  so  as 
to  provide  adequate  detour  routes  for  the  existing  traffic  on  the  highway 
under  construction  or  under  repair.  Big  building  bottlenecks  would  not  exist 
if  there  were  adequate  town  and  city  planning  programs,  incorporating  and 
making  allowance  for  growth  of  the  city  and  town,  as  well  as  increased  traffic 
resulting  from  such  growth.  Stadium  bottlenecks  exist  only  because  highway 
approaches  were  not  planned  in  conjunction  with  the  planning  of  the  stadium, 
or  the  selection  of  the  location  for  the  stadium  was  not  made  with  regard  to 
the  traffic  facilities  available. 

Bridges  and  tunnels  across  natural  barriers  to  highway  traffic  are  the  most 
common  type  of  bottleneck,  and  therefore  the  most  flagrant  example  of  lack 
of  planning.  Bridges  built  before  the  full  magnitude  of  automobile  traffic  was 
foreseen  become  bottlenecks  on  the  highway  leading  to  the  bridge  when  this 
highway  is  widened  to  carry  a  greater  volume  of  traffic  without,  at  the  same 
time,  widening  or  increasing  the  capacity  of  the  bridge.  Bridges  and  tunnels 



built  since  the  automobile  era  have  also,  in  many  instances,  been  constructed 
without  development  of  their  approaches  and  the  highways  leading  to  them. 
Bridges  for  automobile  traffic  should  be  built  to  provide  for  expansion  of 
the  bridge  itself — that  is,  to  provide  for  the  construction  of  a  greater  number 
of  lanes  as  traffic  density  increases.  At  the  same  time  they  should  provide,  in 

their  plaza  approaches 
and  on  the  highways  lead- 
ing to  them,  facilities  for 
handling  expansion  of  the 
approaching  highways 
and  the  bridge-approach 

Here  is  a  glimpse  into 
the  future  twenty  years 
from  now,  at  a  suspension 
bridge  that  carries  a  mo- 
torway  across  a  wide  river. 
The  approach  plaza  where 
bridge  traffic  is  collected 
and  distributed  reaches 
far  from  the  bridge.  There 
is  no  bridgehead  conges- 
tion. The  motorway  is 
two-directional  as  it  en- 
ters the  approach  plaza. 
Its  design  shows  four 
fifty-mile  lanes  with  sepa- 
rators; a  grass  strip;  two 




^Hi^      ^mfiiL 

*%         I 

seventy-five-mile  lanes  with  separators;  a  grass  strip;  and  a  hundred-mile 
lane.  On  this  motorway,  cars  are  traveling  toward  the  bridge. 

On  a  similar  seven-lane  road,  and  separated  from  this  one  by  a  grass  strip, 
are  cars  traveling  in  the  opposite  direction.  As  this  double  motorway  ap- 
proaches a  town  feeder  boulevard  running  at  right  angles  to  it,  the  hundred- 
and  seventy-five-mile 
lanes  start  on  a  rising 
grade  with  the  roadway 
carried  on  columns.  The 
fifty-mile  lanes  are  gradu- 
ally drawn  in  to  take  a 
position  under  the  high- 
speed lanes  forming  a 
two-tier  viaduct  that 
overpasses  the  feeder 
boulevard.  The  town 
feeder  has  eight  lanes  of 
fifty-mile  traffic  moving 
in  opposite  directions.  As 
the  traffic  nears  the  mo- 
torway, the  two  outside 
lanes  make  a  right  turn 
on  a  radius  that  will  allow 

a  fifty-mile  undiminished  3  LANES 

speed,  ramp  up  and  enter 
below  the  two-tier  struc- 
ture to  form  a  third  tier. 

At  the  same  point  a  re-    GEORGE  WASHINGTON  BRIDGE  APPROACH  PROBLEM 




Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison  ' 

verse  procedure  occurs  and  cars 
come  from  the  bridge  on  two 
lanes  turning  left  and  ramping 
down  to  form  a  two-lane  strip 
along  the  town  feeder.  On  the 
opposite  side  of  the  motorway, 
similar  provisions  are  made  for 
traffic  approaching  from  that 

The  approach  structure  takes 
shape  as  a  three-tier  viaduct; 
eight  fifty-mile  lanes  on  the 
lower  level,  eight  fifty-mile 
lanes  on  the  middle  level,  and 
four  seventy-five-mile  and  two 
hundred-mile  lanes  on  the  top 
level.  It  continues  ramping  up; 
now  it  crosses  a  second  town 
feeder  boulevard.  More  cars 
are  gathered  in  by  the  same  sys- 
tem as  before.  Still  the  struc- 
ture rises:  now  it  consists  of 
four  tiers.  All  the  time  each 
lane  preserves  its  own  integrity. 
No  one  cuts  in.  No  one  fears 

collision.  No  one  slows  down.  Traffic  moves  without  delay. 

This  bridge  with  its  huge  stainless  steel  towers  is  designed  to  allow  for 

expansion.  The  towers  are  not  double  piers.  They  are  single  masts.  Four  tiers 



Norman  Bel  Geddes,  1935 

of  highway  run  one  above  the 
other,  keeping  the  bridge  rela- 
tively narrow.  The  need  for 
cross-bracing  is  reduced.  Half 
of  the  traffic  lanes  hang  out- 
side the  great  spires  on  canti- 
levered  supports.  Only  those 
lanes  necessary  immediately 
need  be  built  at  first,  then  as 
more  are  required  they  are 
added.  The  original  structure 
is  designed  to  accommodate  it- 
self to  such  expansion.  The  lanes 
head  across  the  span.  It  is  not 
obvious  to  the  driver  when  he 
leaves  it,  for  the  distributing 
plaza  at  the  other  end  merely 
continues  the  shape  and  speed 
of  the  lanes.  The  bridge  is  not 
a  special  structure  that  inter- 
rupts the  motorway.  It  has  not 
been  tinkered  with  or  lamely 
widened  to  meet  the  toll  of 
traffic.  It  has  been  built  along 
the  lines  of  one  unified  and  elo- 
quent principle:  to  provide  full  road  width  and  full  road  speed  at  every  point 
along  the  highway. 

No  bottleneck  is  ever  created  intentionally.  In  fact,  the  cause  for  the  bottle- 





L  ••  :-••• 



Futurama  Photo  by  General  Motors 

neck  is  probably  the  only  cause  in  the  world  which  can  find  no  defenders. 
Therefore,  it  is  not  enough  simply  to  point  out  that  bottlenecks  should  not 
exist;  it  is  not  enough  to  point  an  accusing  finger  at  a  flagrant  example  and 
say  that  it  is  a  flagrant  example.  Once  a  road  is  built,  the  points  along  it  where 
congestion  occur  are  only  too  obvious.  The  trick  is  to  ascertain  these  points  in 
advance,  to  prevent  them.  Therefore,  any  road,  before  it  is  built,  should  be 


100  MILE  (TWO  LANES) 
75   MILE   (FOUR  LANES) 

50      MILE      (FOUR      LANES) 



Norman  Bel  Geddes,  1935 


analyzed  in  regard  to  all  its  possible  future  uses.  The  highway  designer  must 
determine  what  kinds  of  traffic  will  be  using  the  road,  at  what  point  on  the 
road  the  greatest  number  of  cars  will  get  on  it,  and  where  most  of  the  cars 
will  want  to  get  off.  It  is  possible  to  determine  this  by  thorough  traffic  surveys 
and  by  population  analysis.  Elimination  of  bottlenecks  can  be  achieved 
through  intelligent,  far-sighted  planning  in  advance  of  road  construction. 



HEN  a  man  ventured  forth  at  night  through  the  streets  of  eighteenth 
century  London  or  New  York,  he  carried  a  lantern  to  light  the  way  between 
puddles  and  pitfalls.  If  he  was  a  member  of  the  "gentry"  he  hired  a  boy  to 
carry  the  lantern  for  him.  When,  in  the  following  century,  a  coal  miner 
reached  the  bottom  of  the  shaft  and  began  his  way  through  dark  wet  tunnels, 
he  lit  the  light  fixed  to  his  helmet.  Both  Victorian  miner  and  Georgian  city- 
reveller  found  the  lantern  perfectly  suited  to  their  purpose;  as  they  groped 
and  twisted,  the  light  twisted  with  them. 

In  1940  people  are  still  groping  around  with  lanterns.  The  only  difference 
is  that  now  they  are  hung  on  the  front  of  a  car  or  truck,  and  the  rate  of  grop- 
ing through  the  darkness  is  between  thirty  and  sixty  miles  an  hour.  Of  course, 
this  lantern  is  a  good  deal  brighter  than  its  ancestors — so  bright,  in  fact,  that 
it  succeeds  in  blinding  anyone  driving  toward  it.  It  blinds  him  so  effectively 
that  after  its  flash  has  passed,  it  takes  his  eye  almost  a  minute  to  readjust  itself 
to  darkness,  during  which  time,  still  half-blind,  he  may  be  traveling  as  much 
as  half  a  mile.  It  is  a  most  diabolically  effective  instrument. 



To  a  greater  or  lesser  degree  everyone  is 
blind  at  night.  Too  much  light  is  as  bad  as  too 
little.  Headlights  are  not  bright  enough  to 
light  the  road  ahead  but  too  bright  for  the 
approaching  driver.  The  shift  from  darkness 
to   brilliance   and   back   again   is   too  swift. 
Twenty  years  ago,  visibility  distance  with  au- 
tomobile headlights  on  light-colored  dry  roads 
was  from  200  to  250  feet.  On  dark  or  wet 
roads,  the  visibility  was  virtually  nil.  Today, 
while  great  advances  have  been  made  in  the 
construction  of  cars,  and  great  increases  in 
their  speed,  the  visibility  of  headlights  has  not 
greatly  changed.  Driving  at  a  speed  of  more 
than  40  miles  an  hour  on  an  unlighted  high- 
way, even  though  the  road  be  dry,  the  night 
clear  and  the  high-beam  headlights  burning  brightly,  the  driver  might  just 
as  well  be  blindfolded  so  far  as  his  visibility  is  related  to  the  speed  of  his  car. 
Add  to  this  the  fact  that  when  the  car  is  rounding  a  curve,  its  headlights  point 
diagonally  off,  missing  the  roadside  entirely  and  sometimes  reducing  the  visi- 
bility to  5  0  feet,  increasing  the  driver's  blindness  still  more. 

If  automobile  headlights  comply  with  all  legal  requirements,  they  will  en- 
able a  driver  to  pick  out  a  dark  object  on  an  unlighted  road  only  about  150 
feet  ahead  of  him.  The  Police  Department  of  Pasadena,  California,  became 
very  much  interested  in  this  fact.  Their  research  taught  them  that  a  car  driv- 
ing at  60  miles  an  hour  could  under  no  circumstances  be  stopped  in  less  than 
200  feet.  This  established  the  possibility  that  if  a  pedestrian  was  crossing  the 
path  of  a  car  moving  at  60  miles  an  hour  and  if  he  was  150  feet  ahead  of  it,  he 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

would  be  dragged  5  0  feet  before  the  car  came  -j 



to  a  stop.  This  would  happen  even  if  the^ 

driver  applied  his  brakes  the  instant  he  sawj 

him,  and  even  if  his  brakes  were  working  per- 

In  general,  public  authorities  studying  the 
problem  of  night  accidents  have  paid  rela- 
tively scant  attention  to  the  darkness  factor. 
They  have  accepted  the  increase  in  traffic 
fatalities  as  being  the  result  of  more  cars  and 
greater  speed.  This  seems  a  logical  assumption 
until  one  breaks  down  the  totals  of  fatalities 
into  daylight  accidents  and  night  accidents. 
Then  one  finds  an  astonishing  fact.  In  1937 
automobile  accidents  caused  more  deaths  than 
fires,  typhoid,  diphtheria,  railroads,  airplanes,  BUT  21,900  AUTOISTS  DIED  AT  NIGHT  IN  A  YEAR 

and  ships  all  put  together.  They  numbered  39,700.  Of  this  total,  23,800  peo- 
ple were  killed  at  night.  This  would  be  understandable  if  by  far  the  greater 
volume  of  traffic  moved  at  night.  But  as  everyone  knows,  it  doesn't.  Only 
about  one-third  of  all  motor  traffic  moves  at  night.  And  yet  two-thirds  of  all 
fatal  motor  accidents  occur  at  night. 

Accident  figures  emphasize  that  not  only  are  there  more  accidents  by  night 
than  by  day,  but  that  the  severity  of  night-time  accidents  is  far  greater  than 
that  of  daytime  accidents.  One  in  every  forty-nine  daytime  motor  vehicle 
injuries  proves  fatal.  But  at  night  there  is  one  death  for  every  twenty-six 
injuries.  Furthermore,  this  discrepancy  gets  greater  every  year.  In  the  period 
from  1930  to  1937  inclusive,  there  was  a  2  per  cent  decline  in  daytime 
accident  deaths,  while  there  was  an  increase  of  almost  30  per  cent  in  night- 


m~    itp 



time  fatalities.  These  figures  point  to  an  obvious  conclusion.  Whereas  efforts 
have  been  made  and  are  being  made  to  improve  conditions  of  daytime  driving, 
little  has  been  done  to  overcome  the  greater  hazards  of  the  road  at  night. 

It  is  significant,  too,  that  the  greatest  number  of  fatalities  occurs  between 
the  hours  of  5  P.M.  and  8  P.M.  During  these  hours  in  winter,  when  the 
night  falls  quickly,  more  than  twice  as  many  deaths  occur  as  in  summer  when 
the  light  lingers.  This  is  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  the  traffic  volume  during  this 
hour  in  summer  is  apt  to  be  greater  than  it  is  during  the  same  hour  in  winter. 
Darkness  itself,  then,  must  be  the  hazard-creating  element.  It  is  true  that  at 
night  there  are  a  greater  number  of  fatigued,  intoxicated  or  irresponsible 
drivers.  It  is  also  true  that  there  is  a  heavier  component  of  large  commercial 
vehicles  in  the  traffic  stream.  But  the  main  fact  is  that  night  creates  an  en- 
tirely different  kind  of  traffic.  A  new  relationship  is  established  between  driver 
and  highway.  When  the  sun  goes  down  there  is  no  change  in  the  car  or  the 
road,  or,  necessarily,  the  driver  or  the  weather.  But  there  is  the  change  from 
light  to  darkness,  all-important  because  it  makes  the  driver  orient  himself  to 
an  entirely  new  set  of  conditions. 

[  128  ] 

For  instance,  it  has  been  established  that  for  a  driver  traveling  at  50  miles 
an  hour,  safety  requires  that  he  have  unobstructed  vision  for  at  least  575  feet 
ahead.  Yet  when  that  driver  is  placed  upon  that  road  at  night,  without  lights 
along  the  way  and  only  his  own  headlights  to  go  by,  his  maximum  visibility  is 
about  200  feet,  and  a  set  of  headlights  coming  down  the  highway  from  the 
opposite  direction — even  if  they  are  very  low  in  intensity — reduces  the  driv- 
er's perception,  already  dangerously  limited,  by  60  per  cent. 

Obviously  what  is  lacking  is  proper  lighting.  The  remedy  usually  offered 
is  to  illuminate  the  highways  themselves,  so  that  drivers  will  not  have  to  de- 
pend on  automobile  headlights.  But  even  highway  lighting  is  not  necessarily 
proper  lighting.  If  it  is  incorrect  in  design  or  inadequate  in  strength — and  this 
is  the  case  on  most  highways  which  have  been  lighted  so  far — it  creates  still 
another  danger  factor. 

A  lighted  street  is  safer  than  an  unlighted  one.  But  during  what  period 
should  a  highway  be  lit?  In  the  British  Empire  there  is  a  law  that  specifies  a 
moment  called  "lighting-up  time"  which  varies  from  day  to  day  in  accord- 
ance with  the  sun's  disappearance.  A  small  English  town,  apparently  eager 
to  augment  this  ruling,  hung  upon  its  lampposts  a  curfew  regulation  which 
ended  with  the  following  ironic  definition  of  darkness:  "It  is  dark  when  the 
street  lights  are  on." 

Except  near  the  equator  where  night  conies  suddenly,  there  is  a  considerable 
interval  between  sundown  and  night.  Darkness  comes  gradually.  One's  eyes 
become  adjusted  to  the  increasing  dimness  of  vision.  Only  after  the  street 
lights  are  on  does  one  look  up  with  a  dazzled  start  and  realize  that  darkness 
is  coming  in  earnest.  This  dazzlement  does  not  come  from  any  notable  con- 
trast between  twilight  and  the  daylight  that  preceded  it.  The  realization  that 
it  is  dark  comes  from  the  contrast  between  the  bright  spot  of  the  lamplight 
itself  and  the  comparative  darkness  around  it. 


The  type  of  lamp  and  standard  used  on  those  highways  which  are  actually 
lighted  today  has  been  copied  from  the  types  traditionally  used  on  city  streets. 
But  just  as  the  light  on  the  "great  white  ways"  of  American  cities  is  no  longer 
white,  but  a  confusion  of  flickering  commercial  signs  of  every  known  hue, 
so  the  hopeful  attempt  to  illuminate  highways  with  lofty  standards  has  be- 
come rather  tangled  up  in  the  maze  of  roadside  floodlights,  neon  lights,  lunch- 
wagon  lights,  traffic  lights,  and  flashing  headlights.  How  haphazard  the  think- 
ing behind  conventional  highway  illumination  is,  is  suggested  by  the  way 
many  highway  lighting  systems  are  administered.  Until  midnight  or  i  A.M. 
there  is  fairly  adequate  illumination.  Then,  suddenly,  the  whole  system  is 
switched  off.  Traffic  has  not  stopped.  No  curfew  has  rung.  There  are  plenty  of 
people  who  have  to  go  on  driving  for  the  rest  of  the  night — the  doctor  on  an 
emergency  call,  the  through  tourist,  the  long-distance  truckman,  the  late 
home-comer — but  they  get  no  help.  The  reason  given  for  the  shutdown  is,  of 

course,  economy.  But  that  doesn't  make  it 
any  easier  or  safer  for  the  man  who  happens 
to  be  on  the  road  at  1:05  A.M  rather  than 
12:55  A.M. 

A  great  deal  of  experimenting  is  being  done 
on  new  types  of  lamps  for  highway  lighting. 
Most  important  of  these  are  the  sodium  vapor 
lamps  and  the  mercury  vapor  lamps.  And  al- 
though these  lamps  have  not  yet  reached  per- 
fection, they  are  from  an  engineering  stand- 
point a  step  in  the  right  direction  and  have 
much  to  recommend  them.  They  are  both 
more  penetrating  and  more  economical  than 
regular  lights.  One  of  their  drawbacks,  how- 


General  Electric 


ever,  is  that  the  eerie  pallor  which  they  give  to  the  highway  scene  is  decidedly 
unpleasant  to  the  motorist.  Rapid  progress  is  also  being  made  in  improving 
the  efficiency  of  the  incandescent  filament  type  of  lamp.  New  incandescent 
lamps  of  high  intensity,  supplemented  by  improved  reflectors  lining  the 
luminaire,  are  already  in  use,  a  notable  example  of  which  is  found  on  New 
Jersey's  White  Horse  Pike.  Sodium  vapor  and  mercury  vapor  have  also  been 
combined  with  incandescent  lamps  to  form  a  new  fluorescent  type  of  light. 
As  compared  with  regular  incandescent  lamps,  the  sodium  vapor  lamps  give 
nearly  three  times  as  much  light  for  the  amount  of  electricity  used.  In  New 
Jersey,  accidents  have  been  cut  in  half  where  sodium  light  has  been  employed. 
This  type  of  lighting  was  first  used  in  1933,  and  is  especially  effective  for 
wide  streets  because  it  distributes  its  light  broadly. 

In  addition  to  direct  lighting  methods,  there  are  in  use  today  several 
types  of  indirect  lighting  systems,  consisting  of  large  reflector  buttons  which 
do  not  have  a  light  source  of  their  own  but  which  reflect  back  upon  the  high- 
way the  light  from  approaching  headlamps.  They  outline  the  road  for  a 
mile  ahead  except  at  curves  or  where  they  are  obstructed.  Their  great  virtue 

General  Electric 


lies  in  the  fact  that  they  define  a  roadway  at  no  cost  whatever  other  than  that 
of  installation.  They  are  not  intended  to  replace  highway  lights,  but  simply 
to  supplement  them.  The  most  recently  developed  reflector  buttons  are  ap- 
proximately eight  times  more  powerful  than  any  previously  used. 

Not  only  are  experiments  being  made  with  different  types  of  lighting,  but 
also  with  the  manner  of  their  installation.  The  lighting  system  installed  on  the 
upper  deck  of  a  double-decked  viaduct  in  Cincinnati  consists  of  lighting  units 
placed  in  the  balustrade  of  the  viaduct  which  throw  their  light  horizontally 
across  the  road  surface  from  both  sides,  rather  than  down  on  the  surface  from 
high  above. 

Lack  of  uniformity  among  state  laws  on  intensity  of  headlights,  their  loca- 
tion and  their  general  characteristics  makes  progress  in  the  correction  of  the 
problem  difficult.  Obviously  there  can  be  no  great  advancement  in  practical 
lighting  until  the  authorities  get  together  and  agree.  It  may  be  found  necessary 
to  set  up  a  central  body,  such  as  the  Bureau  of  Standards,  to  arrive  at  a  unified 
control  of  this  universal  problem.  Under  today's  system  of  local  responsibility 
for  lighting,  there  is  apt  to  be  needless  duplication  of  research  and  study  by 
people  inadequately  equipped  for  such  a  large  task.  A  centralizing  agency 
could  collect  and  coordinate  the  scattered  research  on  the  subject,  test  new 
methods,  and  recommend  modern  types  of  lighting  after  sufficiently  broad 
experimentation  had  proved  their  merit. 

Scientific  experimentation  has  recently  resulted  in  the  perfection  of  a  new 
material  for  use  in  automobile  headlight  lenses  and  in  automobile  windshields 
which  promises  great  improvement  in  efficient  highway  illumination  by  head- 
lights without  corresponding  headlight  glare.  This  material,  called  Polaroid, 
was  developed  by  Edwin  H.  Land,  in  1934.  It  is  a  flexible,  transparent  film 
that  in  appearance  somewhat  resembles  cellophane.  This  material  acts  to  comb 
out  or  regiment  the  light  which  passes  through  it,  so  that  the  light  which  has 



Portland  Cement  Association 




Underwood  &  Underwoc 

been  transmitted  through  it  vibrates  in  only  one  plane,  whereas  normally  light 
vibrates  in  all  planes.  This  type  of  light  is  called  polarized  light,  and  has  been 
known  to  science  for  over  200  years.  However,  this  property  of  light  could 
not  be  made  use  of  commercially  until  the  introduction  of  Polaroid,  because 
of  the  excessive  cost  of  materials  existing  for  the  purpose  of  polarizing  light. 
The  great  advantage  of  Polaroid  is  in  the  fact  that  it  can  be  produced  prac- 
tically and  economically  on  a  commercial  scale. 

In  a  beam  of  light  such  as  that  from  a  normal  automobile  headlight  waves 
are  vibrating  in  every  plane  along  the  beam.  However,  replace  the  headlight 
lens  with  a  sheet  of  polarized  material,  and  its  crystals  will  comb  out  all  of  the 
vibrations  except  those  vibrating  in  a  particular  plane.  The  beam  of  light 
which  has  passed  through  the  polarized  material  will  then  have  light  vibra- 
tions in  only  one  plane.  Then  take  a  second  sheet  of  the  polarized  material  and 
place  it  in  the  path  of  light  that  has  passed  through  the  first.  If  its  crystals  are 
parallel  to  those  of  the  first  sheet,  the  light  will  get  through.  If  they  are  at 
right  angles,  the  light  will  be  stopped. 

This  characteristic  of  polarized  light  is  made  use  of  in  the  automobile  in  the 
following  way:  a  piece  of  polarized  material  is  sandwiched  between  layers  of 
glass  from  the  headlight  lens  of  the  automobile.  This  is  so  placed  that  the  light 
passing  through  it  is  vibrating  in  a  plane  at  45  degrees  to  the  road.  Then  a 
similar  piece  is  made  a  part  of  the  windshield  of  the  car,  and  oriented  in  such 
a  way  that  when  two  cars  approach  each  other  along  a  highway  the  plane  of 
the  polarized  light  from  the  headlights  of  one  car  is  at  right  angles  to  the 
polarized  plane  provided  by  the  windshield  of  the  opposing  car.  Therefore  the 
rays  of  light  from  the  opposing  car  cannot  pass  through  the  windshield  of 
the  approaching  car,  and  the  headlights,  instead  of  glaring  at  the  driver,  ap- 
pear as  a  very  faint  glow  indicating  merely  the  position  of  the  oncoming 
automobile.  At  the  same  time,  all  of  the  light  from  both  cars  which  is  still  on 


the  road  surface  clearly  illuminates  the  surface  and  makes  it  visible  as  if  no 
other  car  were  approaching.  The  headlights  themselves  appear  only  as  faint 
disks,  dim  but  clearly  discernible.  With  this  abolition  of  glare  comes  freedom 
from  the  usual  partial  blindness  that  occurs  while  two  cars  are  passing. 

Of  course  there  is  no  point  in  installing  polarized  material  in  one  car  unless 
it  is  installed  in  other  cars  as  well.  The  effectiveness  of  this  material  depends 
entirely  on  the  passage  of  a  national  law.  It  cannot  be  applied  locally. 

A  special  aspect  of  the  science  of  lighting  is  the  study  of  color.  First  there 
is  the  color  of  the  road  surface.  Everyone  who  drives  at  night  has  experienced 
the  sense  of  relief  that  occurs  on  changing  from  a  black  macadam  road  surface 
to  light  gray  concrete.  The  difference  is  that  the  concrete  has  far  higher  light- 
reflecting  power.  Its  light  background  causes  objects  to  stand  out  in  bold 
relief  for  a  longer  distance  ahead.  Then  there  is  the  color  of  the  illumination. 
Experimental  tests  are  now  being  conducted  with  lights  that  have  a  green  tint. 
White  light,  because  of  its  tendency  to  produce  glare,  is  by  no  means  ideal  for 
the  human  eye. 

These  studies  and  experiments  for  improved  highway  lighting,  improved 
headlight  illumination  and  improved  road  and  light  colors  all  tend  to  relieve 
the  highway  illumination  problem.  But  the  basic  problem  is  much  greater  than 
any  of  these  aspects  of  it  would  indicate.  The  solution  can  only  be  obtained 
by  a  broad  outlook  at  the  whole  problem  of  highway  lighting. 

On  most  present-day  highways  there  is  either  a  total  absence  of  light  or 
the  kind  of  lighting  that  belongs  to  pre-motor  days.  The  tall  handsome  lamp- 
posts that  are  still  set  up  along  the  highways  seem  like  sentimental  relics  of 
those  days.  They  look  a  good  deal  like  old-fashioned  domestic  bridge  lamps. 
It  is  not  necessary  that  a  bridge  lamp  light  up  a  whole  room.  It  must  simply 
give  strong  illumination  over  the  book  or  game  on  which  eyes  are  focused.  The 
current  highway  bridge  lamp  does  the  same  thing.  It  gives  brilliant  patches 


General  Electric 


of  light  which  alternate  with  dark  areas.  Its  patches,  true  enough,  are  very 
brilliant.  They  have  to  be.  If  you  hang  your  light  way  up,  you  have  to  make 
it  intense.  But  the  consequence  is  simple  and  eloquent:  it  is  glare  again. 

It  is  a  commonplace,  but  it  bears  repeating:  everyone  is  agreed  that  the  best 
lighting  is  daylight.  That  has  a  corollary.  In  daylight  the  vertical  objects  on 
the  road  are  dark  compared  with  the  light  surface  of  the  road.  Thus,  in  order 
to  get  the  best  conditions  on  the  road  at  night  as  well,  the  objects  should  be 
left  dark,  and  the  horizontal  surface  lit  up. 

The  problem  of  keeping  a  highway  continuously  illuminated  after  night- 
fall is  one  of  cost.  But  the  cost  of  lighting  highways  is  a  comparatively  small 
fraction  of  their  expense.  And  the  results  of  lighting  are  greater  use  of  exist- 
ing roadways,  increased  speed  of  night  driving  and  substantial  savings  in  life 
and  property. 

In  the  next  twenty  years,  immense  progress  is  going  to  be  made  to  eliminate 
the  old  hazard  of  night  driving.  Cars  will  still  have  headlights,  of  course,  to 
be  used  on  minor  roads,  but  these  will  probably  utilize  the  advantages  of 
polarized  light.  Motorways  will  be  lit.  But  their  illumination  will  be  entirely 


re-studied,  not  only  regarding  the  equipment  itself,  but  regarding  the  location 
of  the  equipment.  Lights  will  be  brought  down  out  of  their  bridge-lamp  eleva- 
tion and  placed  closer  to  the  highway  surface  where  their  lights  may  be  more 
effectively  used,  illuminating  the  road  itself  rather  than  the  upper  ether. 
Lights  will  be  so  located  that  they  do  not  shine  into  the  eyes  of  drivers. 

Consider  briefly  what  might  prove  to  be  the  ideally  lit  motorway  of  the 
future.  A  long  banner  of  illumination  lies  ahead.  You  don't  see  the  continuous 
strip  of  tubular  lights  which  has  been  set  along  the  lanes  below  the  driver's 
eye  level.  There  is  no  glare.  An  even  distribution  of  light  covers  the  road  sur- 
face. All  the  headlights  of  cars  are  out.  Your  eyes  are  never  assaulted.  Even 
the  color  of  the  light  has  been  selected  to  relieve  eyestrain.  There  is  no  more 
huddling  together  toward  the  center  of  the  road.  Drivers  do  no  more  blinking 
and  groping. 

And,  late  at  night,  when  traffic  flow  is  diminished,  the  highway  still  isn't 


Norman  Bel  Geddes,   1938 



dark  and  treacherous.  Although  the  system  of  lights  goes  off,  it  doesn't  go 
off  according  to  an  arbitrary  time  schedule,  but  only  for  as  long  as  the  road- 
way is  unused.  The  approach  of  a  car  causes  an  automatic  device  to  turn  on 
the  lights  ahead  for  a  prescribed  distance.  Lights  continuously  turn  on  before 
each  car.  Behind  the  car,  the  lights  turn  off  until  another  car  approaches.  No 
meters  in  the  powerhouse  are  ticking  off  the  cost  of  their  operation  when  lights 
are  not  needed.  When  the  motorway  is  filled  to  capacity,  it  is  illuminated  over 
its  entire  length.  But  when  there  is  a  smaller  amount  of  traffic  flow,  if  the  space 
between  the  cars  is  greater  than  the  standard  distance,  there  is  a  dark  unil- 
luminated  space  behind  each  car. 

Over  and  beyond  its  efficiency,  the  system  also  provides  advantages  that  are 
likely  to  be  overlooked  by  pleasure  drivers.  These  advantages  result  in  in- 
creased efficiency  of  night  trucking,  the  economic  importance  of  which  is 
growing  every  year.  Night  trucking  has  to  operate  under  many  difficulties. 
That  a  nationwide  highway  lighting  system  would  not  only  expedite  this 
traffic  but  also  considerably  increase  it,  is  not  to  be  doubted.  Thus  on  the  new 
motorway  there  is  full  use  and  at  the  same  time  there  is  economy.  There  is 
no  wasting  of  electricity.  Also  there  is  not  the  wasting  of  time  and  road  invest- 
ment that  comes  from  inadequately  lighted  highways.  There  is  not  the  wast- 
ing of  property.  There  is  not  the  wasting  of  human  life. 

The  time  will  come  when  night  driving  will  be  regarded  as  actually  more 
pleasant  than  driving  in  the  daytime.  For  the  light  of  the  sun  is  variable  and 
capricious.  No  one  can  control  its  direction  or  its  intensity.  But  at  night  the 
automatic  devices  of  the  road  will  supply  an  ideal  control  of  light.  After  all, 
it  is  not  a  revolutionary  dream  to  take  lights  down  off  the  poles.  There  is  no 
special  witchcraft  in  the  idea  of  driving  along  a  highway  through  a  self- 
induced  flood  of  light.  These  things  can  be  done.  There  is  no  reason  for  drivers 
to  go  on  being  slaves  at  night  when  they  could  so  easily  be  masters. 




I  HE  first  transcontinental  trips  by  automobile  brought  no  great  improve- 
ment in  running  time.  In  1903,  Sewell  K.  Croker  left  San  Francisco  in  a  two- 
cylinder  Winton  and  after  two  months  and  two  days  he  arrived  in  New  York. 
The  drivers  who  followed  his  pioneering  example  also  took  about  two  months. 

As  long-distance  travel  by  car  developed,  it  was  seen  that  adequate  motor 
roads  were  a  necessity.  A  better-roads  movement,  which  later  developed  into 
the  Lincoln  Highway  Association,  was  founded  in  1912  by  Carl  G.  Fisher, 
maker  of  the  Prest-O-Lite  system  of  headlights.  In  order  to  dramatize  this 
need,  Mr.  Fisher  joined  an  automobile  tour  to  the  Pacific  Coast,  using  a  jumble 
of  unmarked  roads.  The  party's  cars  had  to  be  shoveled  out  along  the  way  and 
coaxed  over  the  steep  grades.  Mr.  Fisher  described  one  of  the  culminating 
experiences  which  convinced  him  of  the  need  for  adequate  roads  as  follows: 
"One  night,  overtaken  by  darkness  and  a  drenching  rain,  I  lost  my  way  some 
nine  miles  from  Indianapolis.  At  a  fork  in  the  road,  my  car's  headlights  re- 
vealed the  base  of  a  road  sign,  but  the  sign  itself  was  too  high  to  read.  I  shinnied 
up  the  sign  pole,  struck  a  match  and  read  the  sign.  It  directed  me  to  'Chew 


Battle- Ax  Plug!'  "  Armed  with  this  useful  information,  he  continued  his  trip. 

In  the  specifications  for  a  model  section  of  road  drawn  up  by  the  Lincoln 
Highway  Association  in  1920  many  sound  principles  were  formulated.  Two 
of  them  bear  rather  directly  on  Mr.  Fisher's  agile  ascent  of  the  chewing- 
tobacco  sign  pole.  They  are:  1.  "The  section  should  be  lighted."  2.  "Advertis- 
ing signs  should  be  prohibited  along  the  right  of  way."  Seven  years  later, 
the  Lincoln  Highway  between  New  York  and  San  Francisco  was  completed 
and,  for  the  first  time,  motor  cars  could  travel  across  the  continent  on  one 

The  Lincoln  Highway  falls  lamentably  short  of  the  needs  of  motor  trans- 
port today.  The  standard  right  of  way  advocated  in  its  specifications  is  1 1 0 
feet  wide.  Over  one  half  of  its  length,  it  is  only  a  two-lane  road.  With  the  ex- 
ception of  a  strip  in  Nebraska,  the  road  is  entirely  paved,  but  most  of  the 
paved  section  is  macadam  rather  than  concrete.  It  is  not  really  a  continuous 
highway  but  a  composite  of  many  highways  pieced  together.  These  pieces 
include  spurs,  old  junctions,  a  cross-patch  of  trails  and  communicating  roads, 
and  they  pass  through  110  cities  and  200  towns  during  their  3056  miles.  The 
Highway  was  designed  to  be  used  by  cars  operating  at  a  speed  of  3  5  miles  an 
hour  and  by  trucks  at  1 0  miles  an  hour.  Few  long-distance  drivers  today  care 
to  drive  that  slowly. 

The  failure  of  the  Lincoln  Highway  is  due  to  lack  of  vision  that  did  not 
allow  for  any  substantial  improvement  in  the  motor  car.  It  was  not  primarily, 
however,  a  lack  of  vision  on  the  part  of  the  people  who  got  the  Highway  built ; 
it  was  a  lack  of  vision  on  the  part  of  the  people  who  opposed  it.  To  get  the 
road  through  at  all  was  a  very  difficult  problem. 

To  operate  profitably  on  long-distance  hauling,  truck  drivers  must  main- 
tain 40  or  more  miles  an  hour.  It  is  not  surprising  that  they  find  inadequate 
for  their  needs  a  road  designed  for  average  truck  speed  of  1 0  miles  an  hour, 


and  interrupted  at  intervals  of  every  half  mile  or  so  by  crossroads.  What  could 
show  the  high  mortality  of  highways  more  clearly  than  the  fact  that  a  road 
only  twelve  years  old  is  already  a  relic  of  the  era  when  trucks  were  required 
to  creep  along  at  10  miles  an  hour? 

Besides  the  Lincoln  Highway,  three  other  main  transcontinental  routes 
exist,  the  Sante  Fe  Trail  which  parallels  in  part  the  old  wagon  road  through 
the  Raton  Pass  in  New  Mexico,  the  Broadway  of  America  which  is  a  scenic 
route  from  New  York  passing  through  Washington,  D.C.,  to  San  Diego,  and 
the  Yellowstone  Route  which  runs  from  Chicago  to  the  National  Park  in 
Wyoming.  The  shortest  distance  from  coast  to  coast  is  2935  miles  from  New 
York  to  Los  Angeles  by  the  Sante  Fe  and  Will  Rogers  Highways. 

In  addition  to  these  major  transcontinental  roads,  there  are  a  great  many 
other  motor  roads  which  the  transcontinental  traveler  can  use.  There  are  one 
hundred  and  seventeen  numbered  routes  running  east  and  west  for  varying 
distances,  and  one  hundred  and  seven  numbered  routes  between  the  nation's 
northern  and  southern  boundaries.  The  nomenclature  adopted  for  national 
highways  gives  odd  numbers  to  routes  running  north  and  south,  such  as  U.S. 
Highway  Number  One  along  the  Atlantic  seaboard.  Even-numbered  routes 
run  east  and  west,  as  U.S.  Highway  Number  Two,  from  Eastern  Maine  to 
Glacier  Park  in  Northwest  Montana.  From  Rouses'  Point,  New  York,  to  Sault 
Ste.  Marie  on  the  northern  peninsula  of  Michigan  there  is  a  gap  in  this  U.S. 
Highway,  for  the  shortest  distance  between  these  two  points  lies  over 
Canadian  roads. 

An  official  road  guide  book  of  1915  grew  lyrical  in  its  attempts  to  lure 
motorists  westward  to  the  San  Francisco  World's  Fair  over  the  macadamized 
turnpikes  of  the  East,  the  fair-weather  roads  of  the  Middle  West  and  the 
natural  gravel  of  Wyoming.  The  hazards  of  travel  near  Fish  Springs,  Utah, 
certainly  did  not  frighten  the  writer  of  the  guide  book:  "If  trouble  is  experi- 


enced,  build  a  sagebrush  fire.  Mr.  Thomas  will  come  with  a  team.  He  can  see 
you  20  miles  off."  John  Thomas  was  an  honest  man.  He  had  a  fixed  price. 
It  did  not  matter  whether  one  or  four  cars  were  stuck  in  the  mud;  he  would 
haul  all  of  them  out  for  the  same  price — ten  dollars.  Mr.  Thomas,  however, 
abhorred  arguments,  and  he  always  had  the  last  word.  If  the  captive  motorists 
ventured  to  dispute  the  fee,  Mr.  Thomas  merely  raised  it  to  twenty  or  twenty- 
five  dollars.  These  were  roads  which,  as  Mr.  Crocker  had  demonstrated  twelve 
years  before,  could  be  traversed  by  automobile.  But  they  were  certainly  not 
roads  designed  to  facilitate  motor  travel. 

Even  today,  in  cars  that  can  go  70  miles  an  hour,  many  motorists  take 
ten  days  to  cross  the  continent.  It  is  not  a  question  of  straight  transcontinental 
travel  only.  The  same  conditions  exist  on  north-south  routes,  or  on  any  long 
inter-city  routes.  The  1940  motor  car  is  capable  of  carrying  goods  or  pas- 
sengers at  sustained  speeds  on  extremely  long  trips.  Yet  only  a  very  small 
percentage  of  trucks  or  passenger  cars  in  the  United  States  is  driven  on  long 
trips.  Drivers  are  not  deterred  by  lack  of  faith  in  their  cars.  But  it  costs  too 
much — in  time,  money  and  energy — to  do  a  long-distance  automobile  run  in 
the  country  today.  Undoubtedly  you  or  friends  of  yours  have  made  the  trip 
from  coast  to  coast  by  car.  You  will  have  noticed  that  the  highways  along 
which  you  drive  are  by  no  means  the  undeviating  ways  indicated  by  the  deli- 
cate lines  on  the  nation's  road  maps.  They  are  merely  connecting  links  from 
one  town  to  another  which,  if  followed  with  sufficient  diligence  and  reference 


Brown  Bros. 

to  road  maps,  bring  you  eventually  to  the  coast.  Even  with  two  or  more 
drivers  relieving  each  other  to  keep  the  car  moving  night  and  day,  it  is  not 
possible  to  make  the  trip  by  car  as  quickly  as  by  train.  Average  time  for  the 
trip  by  motor  is  longer  than  by  rail  chiefly  because  the  highways  used  also 
serve  local  traffic,  which  has  a  very  different  pace  and  purpose  from  that  of  the 
cross-country  driver. 

From  an  inquisitive  tourist's  point  of  view,  there  may  be  possible  advan- 
tages in  zigzagging  one's  way  from  coast  to  coast,  and  coming  in  contact  with 
a  maximum  number  of  one's  fellow  citizens  en  route.  However,  few  cross- 
country drivers  who  have  made  the  trip,  either  for  business  or  pleasure,  express 
this  sentiment.  Travel  by  road,  especially  in  the  case  of  merchandise,  ought  to 
have  many  superiorities  over  any  other  kind  of  travel.  The  car  and  the  truck 
are  both  capable  of  sustained  high  speeds.  The  pleasure  car  is  under  the  driver's 
individual  control,  thus  eliminating  the  irksome  necessity  of  conforming  to 
prearranged  schedules  and  routes.  And  as  for  merchandise,  one  pound  of  truck 
will  haul  two  pounds  of  freight,  while  in  order  to  haul  the  same  two  pounds 
of  freight  on  the  railroad,  it  takes  eight  pounds  of  freight  car. 

Engineers  could  readily 
design  trucks,  buses  and 
passenger  cars  to  operate 
at  100  miles  an  hour,  if 
proper  roads  were  avail- 
able for  their  use.  At  such 
speed,  the  trip  from  Chi- 
cago to  San  Francisco 
could  be  made  in  about 
eighteen  hours.  If  new 
routes  are  to  be  planned 

Margaret  Bourke-White 






today,  they  should  not  become  obsolete  in  another  twenty  years.  Therefore 
designers  should  think  in  terms  of  highways  that  can  be  safely  used  even  at 
100  miles  an  hour.  Such  highways  are  possible.  From  the  motorist's  point  of 
view,  the  idea  of  driving  at  such  speed,  even  with  safety,  is  not  yet  especially 
popular,  but  to  no  one  today  does  it  seem  as  fantastic,  immoral  or  suicidal  as 
driving  at  5  0  miles  an  hour  seemed  to  buggy  drivers  two  generations  ago.  In 
those  days,  trains  ran  through  the  countryside  as  fast  as  the  average  motor  car 
does  today.  Now  airplanes  carrying  passengers  at  200  miles  an  hour  are  com- 
monplace. And  yet  the  same  argument  persists  that  was  advanced  by  the 
driver  who  whipped  up  old  Dobbin  saying,  "Anyone  who  drives  faster  than 
I  do  is  driving  too  fast.  A  body  can't  stand  it." 

It  is  just  as  short-sighted  for  people  today  to  say  that  cars  should  not  drive 
at  100  miles  an  hour  as  it  was  of  George  Washington's  physician  to  warn  him 
that  anyone  driving  over  1 5  miles  an  hour  would  inevitably  die  of  heart- 
failure.  Incidentally,  George  Washington  was  never  in  danger  on  this  account. 
Average  stagecoach  speed  on  his  travels  was  4  miles  an  hour. 

The  sensation  of  speed  is  relative.  No  family  now  driving  in  a  closed  car,  on 
a  smooth  straight  road  at  5  0  miles  an  hour,  experiences  the  sensation  of  wind- 
blown, dust-raising  dare-deviltry  which  made  the  family  group  in  a  1910 
open-model  Buick  hold  on  for  their  lives,  as  the  car  achieved  a  nerve-  and 
spine-racking  burst  of  speed  at  1 2  miles  an  hour  over  a  rutted  roadway. 

In  1848,  the  railroad  revolutionized  man's  concept  of  speed.  A  train  burn- 
ing pine  knots  ran  from  Boston  to  Lawrence,  Massachusetts,  in  twenty-six 
minutes,  at  the  hitherto  unheard-of  speed  of  a  mile  a  minute.  This  was  not  an 
ordinary  passenger  run  but  a  demonstration.  The  daring  newspaper  reporters 
who  made  the  trip  "commended  themselves  to  God,  and  were  lying  down  on 
the  floor  where  the  chance  of  survival  seemed  better."  It  took  a  week  to  repair 
the  tracks  after  this  venture,  but  the  concept  of  a  "mile  a  minute"  immedi- 



ately  became  firmly  established  in  the  popular 
imagination  as  top  speed.  This  popular  con- 
cept became  an  incentive  to  faster  travel.  To- 
day it  is  as  antiquated  a  measure  for  top  speed 
as  was  the  10-mile-an-hour  pace  at  which 
the  first  automobile  race  was  run. 

Early  in  1939,  H.  Lloyd  Child,  test  pilot, 
exceeded  all  known  speed  records  in  a  dive  of 
more  than  575  miles  an  hour,  starting  at  an 
altitude  of  22,000  feet.  No  one  proposes  to 
drive  an  automobile  that  fast,  though  John 
Cobb  has  driven  a  racing  car  at  368  miles  an 
hour,  which  is  faster  than  a  shell  shot  from 
a  mortar.  In  an  airplane,  speed  is  a  safety 
factor:  it  is  speed  which  increases  the  airplane's  ability  to  sustain  itself.  On 
today's  highways,  because  of  the  ever-present  chance  of  coming  into  contact 
with  another  vehicle  or  a  stationary  object,  speed  translates  itself  into  a  danger 
factor.  But  in  1960,  100  miles  an  hour  will  seem  no  faster  than  the  motor 
speeds  which  we  now  take  for  granted. 

To  convert  all  American  roads  into  high-speed  superhighways  would  be 
both  impracticable  and  undesirable.  But  a  certain  number  of  motorways 
where  safe,  fast  driving  and  an  uninterrupted  trip  would  be  possible  are  never- 
theless an  immediate  need.  By  stimulating  the  use  of  motor  vehicles,  such  new 
motorways  would  amply  pay  the  cost  of  construction  and  would  serve  as 
models  for  the  future.  For  centuries  we  were  content  with  springless  wagons. 
Is  that  a  reason  why  we  should  continue  to  put  up  with  slow  roads? 

Imagine  a  man  who  wants  to  drive  from  the  Atlantic  Coast  to  California, 
not  on  pleasure  bent  nor  on  one  of  the  fancier  varieties  of  business,  but  in  dead 


earnest  on  a  plain  job.  Say  he  drives  a  truck.  He  has  some  highly  perishable 
freight  to  transport.  It  has  to  get  across  the  country  quickly.  It's  nothing 
more  nor  less  than  twelve  barrels  of  oysters  that  have  been  hauled  out  of 
Chesapeake  Bay  the  day  the  season  opened.  The  jobber  in  California  can't  wait 
for  rail  transport.  He  can't  pay  for  air  transport.  So  he  is  dependent  on  high- 
speed trucking. 

At  5:15  in  the  afternoon,  with  the  trailer  loaded,  the  truckman  and  his 
relief  driver  climb  aboard.  From  the  oyster  pier  the  route  lies  over  the  im- 
proved secondary  highways  which  serve  as  feeders  to  the  motorway.  Twenty- 
five  miles  outside  Washington  they  pick  up  the  motorway  feeder  lanes,  built  as 
a  unit  with  the  motorway  and  having  the  same  construction  and  design  char- 
acteristics. As  the  truck  bears  to  the  right  from  the  secondary  highway  at  the 
feeder  point  and  enters  the  feeder  lane,  the  driver  immediately  feels  the  auto- 
matic car  control  take  effect.  As  it  approaches  the  motorway  on  a  long  sweep- 
ing curve,  the  car  automatically  accelerates  to  a  steady  5  0  miles  an  hour,  ready 
to  merge  with  the  continuous  flow  of  traffic  on  the  through  lane.  For  a  mo- 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

ment,  the  truck  parallels  the  motorway  on  the  feeder  lane  and  then  is  auto- 
matically slipped  into  a  gap  in  the  outside  of  the  four  lanes  provided  for  50- 
mile  traffic.  There  was  a  break  in  the  automatically  spaced  line  of  cars  which 
allowed  him  to  enter.  Otherwise  the  speed  control  on  the  feeder  lane  would 
have  held  the  car  back  until  a  space  was  available.  A  slight  delay  wouldn't 
have  bothered  the  driver  greatly  because  he  knows  that  once  he  is  on  the 
motorway  there  is  never  any  delay.  This  delay  would  mean  no  more  to  him 
than  that  which  an  airplane  pilot  experiences  when,  after  taking  off,  his  plane 
climbs  carefully  and  slowly  to  the  desired  altitude  before  getting  up  full 
speed.  As  a  transatlantic  steamer  makes  slow  progress  leaving  New  York 
harbor  until  it  reaches  the  open  sea  lanes,  it  may  sometimes  be  necessary  for  a 
car  going  on  a  long  journey  on  the  motorway  to  encounter  a  short  delay  be- 
fore reaching  the  uninterrupted  high-speed  lanes. 

Ahead  of  the  truck,  the  motorway  is  bathed  in  an  even  glow  of  light;  car 
headlights  are  extinguished;  the  driver  can't  help  wondering  how  he  ever 
found  his  way  about  in  the  dark  benighted  era  when  each  car  carried  angry, 
stabbing  lamps  that  blinded  the  other  fellow.  As  he  speeds  along  on  a  straight- 
line  course,  cutting  through  the  Blue  Ridge  Mountains  and  the  Alleghenies, 
he  can  feel  the  control  mechanism  of  the  motorway  maintaining  his  truck  in 
its  lane.  The  nearest  car  in  his  lane  is  1 5  0  feet  away.  On  the  right  lies  a  wide 
right-of-way  strip,  beautifully  landscaped.  On  the  left,  alongside  the  fourth 
lane,  is  a  wide  strip  of  grass  beyond  which  he  sees  two  more  lanes  of  cars  rush- 
ing past.  They  are  the  7  5 -mile-per-hour  lanes.  Beyond  that,  with  another 
wide  grass  strip  intervening,  is  the  single  100-mile  lane.  The  foliage  of  trees 
and  shrubs  conceals  a  similar  eastbound  right  of  way  paralleling  this  west- 
bound one.  All  types  of  motorized  vehicles  use  this  motorway — heavy  trucks 
like  the  oyster  dealer's,  small  farm  trucks  carrying  produce  to  market,  trailer 
trucks  similar  to  a  Diesel  train,  large  and  small  passenger  cars,  tourist  trailers, 


— -^JF 


double-decked  transcontinental  buses  with  comfortable  lounge  space.  All 
move  steadily  and  easily,  without  dust,  danger  or  delay. 

The  driver  presses  a  button  on  the  instrument  panel  which  will  maneuver 
him  into  the  7  5 -mile  lane  at  the  first  opportunity.  All  the  way  across  the 
country  there  is  no  danger  of  sideswiping  or  bumping  or  of  intersections. 
The  whole  thing  is  managed  by  automatic  car  control.  Later  on,  he  shifts  into 
the  100-mile  lane. 

He  has  a  lot  of  time  to  look  around.  He  notices  feeder  lanes  from  other 
cities  leading  into  the  motorway.  But  he  never  has  to  slow  down  for  these 
cars  to  get  on  the  motorway.  Never  at  any  time  does  he  have  to  slow  down  for 
any  reason.  Crossroads  underpass  the  motorway.  Long-distance  drivers  are  not 
the  only  ones  to  benefit  from  such  a  motorway.  Local  traffic  flows  more  freely, 
because  local  roads  no  longer  bear  the  burden  of  through  traffic  for  which 
they  were  not  designed.  There  are  no  visible  lights.  There  are  no  road  hogs. 
The  motorway  has  taken  all  the  irritation  out  of  driving.  The  road  has  met 
the  automobile  at  last  on  its  own  terms.  The  oyster  dealer  bought  his  truck  for 
speed  and  reliability.  The  motorway  has  also  given  him  safety,  comfort  and 

Midnight.  The  relief  driver  has  taken  the  wheel  while  his  friend  sleeps — 
not  sitting  up,  but  comfortably,  in  a  bed  in  the  truck  cab.  Neither  raucous 
horn  blowing  for  a  right  of  way  nor  squeal  of  brakes  wakens  him.  A  sign 
flashes,  telling  the  driver  that  Chicago  is  47  miles  due  north.  He  checks  up 
on  his  clock;  it's  only  1:30.  He  has  passed  Pittsburgh  and  Fort  Wayne  with- 
out realizing  it — they  lie  outside  the  route  of  the  motorway.  The  shortest 
highway  route  in  1940  between  Washington  and  Chicago  was  697  miles. 
If  he  could  have  managed  45  miles  an  hour — which  he  could  not  have  done 
because  of  all  the  cities  and  towns  through  which  the  highway  passed — the 
trip  would  have  taken  at  least  fifteen  and  a  half  hours.  It  was  a  fifteen-hour 


trip  on  the  train.  But  the  motorway  connecting  Washington  and  Chicago  is 
only  625  miles,  exclusive  of  the  feeder  highways  from  both  cities.  Therefore, 
driving  at  100  miles  an  hour  while  on  the  motorway  and  allowing  ample  time 
to  approach  and  leave  the  motorway,  the  whole  trip  takes  only  nine  hours. 

The  motorway  does  not  actually  enter  either  city.  Its  terminal  points  are 
situated  so  as  to  permit  feeder  roads  to  distribute  traffic  and  avoid  congestion. 

The  truck  speeds  westward.  There  is  no  need  to  slow  down  for  the  2 -mile 
bridge  over  the  Mississippi  or  for  any  of  the  intersections  with  other  motorway 

Then  behind  them,  dawn  begins  to  break.  There  is  a  great  sight  to  be  seen 
to  the  eastward  as  they  fly  over  the  great  plains  of  Nebraska.  As  the  morning 
wears  on,  the  hot,  dusty  atmosphere  is  unbearable,  but  in  the  air-conditioned 
truck  cab  the  men  are  cool  and  comfortable. 

At  regular  20 -mile  intervals  along  the  motorway  there  are  combination 
gas  stations,  emergency  stations,  restaurants  and  hotels.  A  driver  always  knows 
these  facilities  will  be  available  ahead  of  him.  At  one  of  these  points,  the 
oyster-laden  truck  automatically  transfers  to  the  7  5 -mile  lane  and  glides 
into  the  station  from  the  transition  lane  leading  to  the  50 -mile  speed  route. 
They  stop  for  a  light  breakfast  while  the  truck  is  being  refueled  and  checked. 

Speeding  toward  the  west  again  on  the  100-mile  lane,  after  the  short  rest, 
through  Northern  Colorado  and  on  past  Salt  Lake  City,  the  driver  notices  a 
slight  but  barely  perceptible  upgrade. 

Now  a  voice  over  the  dashboard  speaker  tells  the  driver  he  is  entering  the 

Through  the  haze  to  westward,  the  first  profiles  of  great  mountains  appear. 
It  is  clear  that  ahead  are  conditions  which  made  new  problems  for  motorway 
engineers.  The  four  essentials  that  were  built  into  the  motorway  always  stay 
the  same:  safety,  speed,  comfort  and  economy.  But  these  essentials  have  to  be 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 



Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

handled  separately  here  in  relation  to  the  particular  demands  of  each  of  the 
three  speed  lanes. 

Something  happens  now  that  they  are  in  the  foothills.  Ahead  is  the  Great 
Salt  Lake.  The  100-  and  7 5 -mile  lanes  draw  together  as  the  course  continues 
straight  toward  the  body  of  water.  Next  the  westbound  lanes  contact  the 
eastbound  lanes  of  the  same  speeds.  The  50 -mile  lanes,  however,  swing  out 
around  the  lake.  The  two  100-mile  lanes  gradually  ramp  up  over  the  four  75- 
mile  lanes.  All  six  of  these 
lanes  continue  straight 
across  the  lake.  The  75- 
mile  lanes  form  the  lower 
deck  of  a  bridge  with  the 
100-mile  lanes  forming 
the  upper  deck. 

Across  the  body  of 
water  a  second  thing  hap- 
pens. The  7  5 -mile  lanes 
are  emerging  from  be- 
neath the  faster  ones.  The 
increasing  grade  has  ne- 
cessitated the  separation. 
These  100-mile  lanes 
must  rise  at  a  lesser  grade 
than  the  others  in  order 
to  maintain  their  uniform 
high  speed.  The  7  5  -milers 
veer  off  slightly  and  form 
a  two-directional  system 


Futurama  Photo  by  General  Motors 

of  their  own,  on  a  route  adapted  to  their  specific  requirements. 

Each  of  the  three  groups  of  lanes  has  its  own  speed,  its  own  particular  gradi- 
ent and  its  established  curve  radius.  All  three  factors  remain  constant. 

The  50 -mile  lanes  are  climbing  from  the  valley  floor.  They  resemble  the 
best  highways  of  1940 — except,  of  course,  that  they  are  designed  to  maintain 
maximum-minimum  speed  and  constant  grade.  They  by-pass  many  natural 
obstacles,  as  the  old  highways  do,  and  describe  a  somewhat  circuitous  route. 
The  7  5 -mile  lanes  are  intermediate — a  compromise  between  the  methods  of 
the  50  and  the  100. 

The  100-  and  7  5 -mile 
lanes  climb  on  a  much 
straighter  route  than  the 
fifties — using  cuts,  fills, 
bridges  and  tunnels — but 
still,  where  the  terrain  de- 
mands it,  they  give  way 
in  curves  of  great  radius 
and  follow  the  more  ad- 
vantageous features  of  the 
land.  All  curves  are  so 
gentle  that  they  have  no 
more  effect  on  driving 
than  a  straightaway.  The 
50 -mile  lanes  are  best  for 
tourists  who  want  to  en- 
joy all  the  beauties  of  the 
scenery,  or  who  want  to 
leave  the  motorway  oc- 

16  MILES  »  MILES 



Norman  Bel  Geddes,   I935 


casionally  by  means  of  a  feeder  road,  to  linger  at  one  of  the  resort  hotels.  The 
7 5 -mile  lanes  are  best  for  the  conventional  through  traveler.  But  the  100- 
mile  lanes  are  for  those  who  mean  business — those  who  have  to  get  across  the 
Great  Divide  in  the  shortest  time. 

Suddenly  the  motorway  enters  a  tunnel.  There  is  a  surprise  here.  It  isn't 
the  usual  dark  kind  of  tunnel.  It  has  been  cut  so  close  to  the  side  of  the  moun- 
tain that  its  outer  walls  have  openings  cut  into  it  for  the  admission  of  light 
and  air.  There  is  no  need  of  headlights,  no  gasoline  haze,  no  stifling  air. 

From  the  tunnel  mouth,  the  lane  whirls  onto  a  suspension  bridge  straight 
for  the  next  massive  mountain  of  granite.  Below  to  the  right  is  the  75-mile- 


lane  system,  swinging  along  the  upper  reaches  of  the  gorge.  Considerably 
farther  down  the  valley  runs  the  silver  ribbon  of  the  50 -mile  lanes.  That  val- 
ley down  there  has  always  been  fertile  but  it  was  inaccessible  until  recently. 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


Now  there  are  grazing  slopes  and  terraced  farms  and  newly  developed  lands: 
all  made  possible  because  the  motorway  has  opened  it  up.  Far  away  a  white 
wisp  of  smoke  marks  a  train.  The  air  grows  sharp  and  sparkling.  The  driver 
barely  notices  the  steady  climbing  because  the  grade  is  so  gradual.  A  cliff 
looms  ahead.  The  only  way  to  get  around  it  would  be  to  hang  the  highway 
upon  the  face  of  the  cliff — and  that  is  exactly  what  has  been  done. 

Where  the  motorway  runs  through  country  susceptible  to  heavy  snow  and 
drifts,  the  road  surface  is  of  expanded  metal  with  gratings  that  allow  the 
snow  to  fall  through,  and  it  is  treated  with  a  chemical  to  melt  it.  In  other 


sections,  a  chemical  is  auto- 
matically sprayed  over  the 
road  surface  from  hydrants 
along  the  right  of  way,  melt- 
ing and  flushing  the  snow  as 
it  falls  and  preventing  it  from 
becoming  packed  and  dry. 

The  next  sign  that  blinks 
past  tells  the  story:  "ALTI- 
TUDE 7,000  feet." 

After  a  short  run  across  the 
roof  of  the  world,  the  7  5 -mile 
route  joins  up  again.  Before 
long  the  50 -mile  does  likewise 
but  it  has  used  triple  the 
mileage  of  the  hundreds  in  the 
meantime.  As  glittering  peaks 
drop  behind  them,  they  sail 
along  through  stands  of 
spruce,  catching  glimpses  of 
lower  and  lower  valleys  before 
them,  until,  in  a  vast  prospect, 
they  come  out  on  the  western 
margin  of  the  continent. 

By  4 :4  5  the  radio  is  remind- 
ing the  truck  driver  that  just 
ahead  is  a  transition  point 
where  he  must  go  through 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


deceleration  lanes  to  reduce  his  speed  to  5  0  miles  and  so  turn  off  on  the  feeder 
for  San  Francisco.  On  a  wide  express  boulevard,  automatically  controlled  just 
like  the  motorway,  he  slips  into  the  city  in  time  for  delivery  and  dinner.  He 
has  traveled  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific,  on  land,  in  twenty-four  hours! 
It  may  sound  fantastic.  At  least,  it  sounds  remote.  But  it  can  be  done.  It 
won't  be  done  all  at  once.  It  won't  be  done  in  a  year's  time.  But  it  will  be 
done.  The  need  for  quicker  and  safer  and  more  economical  transportation  de- 
mands it.  The  imagination  and  courage  of  America  will  attend  to  it. 



UST  as  important  as  the  technical  and  physical  side  of  highway  building  is 
the  human  side.  Throughout  the  history  of  transportation,  there  has  almost 
always  been  a  conflict  between  designers  and  technicians  on  the  one  hand, 
and  grafters  and  profiteers  on  the  other  hand.  To  know  roads,  one  should 
go  behind  the  scenes  of  road  building  to  examine  the  elements  of  control — 
those  social  institutions  and  agencies  which  are  in  charge  of  the  execution  of 
the  public's  demands  for  quicker,  safer,  more  comfortable  and  more  economi- 
cal means  of  transportation.  One  should  know  how  governmental  bodies 
work  and  have  worked,  where  the  money  for  roads  comes  from,  where  it  goes 
and  where  it  ought  to  go  from  now  on. 

Twice  as  much  money  is  spent  for  roads  today  as  is  justified  by  results. 
This  is  a  strong  statement.  But  it  rests  on  two  major  facts:  inefficiency  and 
graft.  Of  course,  it  is  often  difficult,  if  not  impossible,  to  distinguish  one  from 
the  other.  Graft  is  often  passed  off  as  inefficiency.  It  is  inevitably  covered  up 
and  glossed  over.  The  forms  of  graft  which  affect  roads  vary  from  outright 
robbery  and  bribery  to  more  subtle  forms  which  often  go  undetected.  "Waste" 




and  inefficient  construction  always  have  been  and  are  today  all  too  prevalent. 
As  a  result,  roads  cost  too  much  to  build,  wear  out  too  quickly,  require  con- 
stant repair  and  unnecessary  maintenance  costs. 

Possibly  even  more  ruinous  than  the  outright  theft  of  highway  funds  is 
the  "political  road" — the  road  routed  not  where  it  can  be  of  most  service,  but 
where  it  will  most  profitably  serve  the  interests  of  those  in  political  authority. 
This  practice  is  reminiscent  of  gerrymandering,  a  process  named  after  Gov- 
ernor Gerry  of  Massachusetts,  who  in  1812  divided  Essex  County  into  a 
salamander-shaped  district  which  served  no  purposes  other  than  those  of  his 
political  party.  When  Thomas  Jefferson  was  President,  he  received  a  letter 
from  his  Secretary  of  the  Treasury,  Albert  Gallatin,  who  urged  that  the 
national  highway  then  under  consideration  should  be  routed  through  Wash- 
ington County,  Pennsylvania.  The  Secretary  argued  that  Washington  County 
"gives  a  uniform  majority  of  about  2,000  votes  in  our  favor,  and  if  this  be 
thrown  by  reason  of  this  road  in  a  wrong  scale,  we  will  infallibly  lose  the 
State  of  Pennsylvania  at  the  next  election."  You  can  look  up  any  history  book 
and  find  that  Mr.  Gallatin's  party  won  the  next  election.  But  you  don't  have 
to  look  up  any  books  to  find  how  the  Old  National  Pike  was  routed.  You  can 
drive  over  the  site  of  this  road  today — where  it  ran  squarely  through  the 
strategic  Washington  County. 

A  National  Transportation  Program,  published  two  years  ago  by  the  Trans- 
port Association  of  America,  stated  that:  "In  the  recent  Highway  Cost  Study 
conducted  by  the  State  of  Illinois,  it  was  found  that  that  State,  which  has  more 
miles  of  rural  concrete  pavement  than  any  other,  will  be  obliged  to  begin  in 
1938  with  a  program  of  reconstruction  many  years  in  advance  of  that  antic- 
ipated, and  for  which  no  provision  has  been  made.  Recent  studies  indicate 
that  at  current  prices  and  vehicle  tax  rates,  all  contemplated  motor  vehicle 
revenues  will  be  consumed  in  annual  payments  against  principal  and  interest 


on  highway  bonds  and  the  reconstruction  of  existing  roads,  and  still  leave  an 
annual  deficit  of  more  than  $6,000,000.  The  indebtedness  in  question  will  not 
be  completely  paid  until  1957,  yet  much  of  it  represents  the  construction  of 
the  3300  miles  of  concrete  roads  which  must  be  rebuilt  over  the  next  ten 
years.  Conditions  in  Illinois  are  doubtless  representative  of  those  which  exist 
in  other  States." 

Unfortunately,  graft  and  inefficiency  are  not  new  developments.  Perhaps 


Portland  Cement  Assn. 

if  they  were,  their  novelty  would  attract  the  public's  attention  and  something 
decisive  might  be  done  about  them. 

Primitive  trade  routes  had  at  least  one  thing  in  common  with  modern  high- 
ways. Both  have  been  a  means  of  extorting  an  infinite  number  of  penalties 
from  the  hapless  traveler.  Rulers  of  states  have  always  found  highways  an 
inexhaustible  source  of  revenue.  Robber  bands,  sometimes  in  an  unholy  alli- 
ance with  the  authorities,  snatched  easy  profits  with  a  flourish  of  a  sword  or 


the  threat  of  a  gun.  There  was  never  anything  in  American  history  which  was 
akin  to  the  organized  robbery  of  the  rich  old  caravans  in  Europe  and  Asia.  But 
we  have  our  tradition  of  stagecoach  and  train  robberies.  And  the  automobile 
highway  has  inherited  that  tradition.  In  Toledo,  Ohio,  this  situation  became 
so  serious  that  the  police,  over  a  considerable  period  of  time,  turned  off  the  city 
traffic  lights  after  dark  because  so  many  motorists  were  being  held  up  when 
they  stopped  for  red  lights.  But  this  is  only  the  most  obvious  form  of  highway 
holdup.  Roads  in  America  since  pre-Revolutionary  days  have  been  paved  with 
some  good  and  many  highly  questionable  intentions. 

In  1811,  the  Federal  government  undertook  construction  of  the  Cumber- 
land Road,  from  Cumberland,  Maryland,  to  Wheeling  on  the  Ohio  River,  its 
first  big  venture  in  road  building.  State  interest  in  highways  started  ten  years 
later,  when  Kentucky  set  up  the  first  State  Highway  Department.  Public  in- 
terest in  highways  and  Federal  highway  activities  languished  over  the  next 
fifty  years,  due  to  the  interest  in  railroads  and  their  development.  In  1893  the 
Office  of  Road  Inquiry  in  Washington  was  organized,  having  very  few  powers 
and  acting  chiefly  in  an  educational  and  advisory  capacity.  This  resulted  from 
the  resourceful  crusade  of  A.  G.  Batchelder  and  Colonel  A.  A.  Pope,  each  of 
whom  became  known  as  the  father  of  good  roads.  Most  of  the  interest  in  roads 
and  highways  during  the  nineties  was  a  result  of  the  efforts  of  the  League  of 
American  Wheelmen  and  the  national  craze  of  bicycling. 

At  the  beginning  of  the  twentieth  century  there  were  only  ten  state  high- 
way departments  in  the  country,  and  it  was  not  until  1908,  when  Maryland 
established  the  principle  that  highway  routes  were  subject  to  state  control, 
and  that  paved  highways  should  at  least  connect  county  seats,  that  there  was 
any  thought  of  state  highway  planning.  In  1916,  the  idea  that  the  central 
government  had  certain  duties  toward  interstate  transportation  was  embodied 
in  the  Federal  Aid  Highway  Act,  which  provided  for  Federal  aid  grants  for 


road  construction  on  condition  that  the  states  match  these  appropriations 
dollar  for  dollar.  The  immediate  basis  for  this  was  the  Federal  government's 
interest  in  the  moving  of  mails  and  of  troops.  Under  this  plan  as  amended  and 
subsequently  enlarged  by  relief  legislation,  over  three  billion  dollars  have  been 
authorized  by  the  Federal  government  to  aid  roads  built  under  state  super- 
vision. Under  the  Highway  Act  of  1921,  no  state  could  receive  Federal  aid 
unless  its  highway  department  collaborated  with  the  Secretary  of  Agriculture 
to  frame  a  national  system  of  interrelated  highways. 

The  Office  of  Road  Inquiry  subsequently  was  changed  to  the  Federal 
Bureau  of  Public  Roads,  and  in  1939  its  name  was  again  changed,  this  time 
to  the  Public  Roads  Administration.  This  bureau  does  not  have  the  authority 
to  design  or  build  roads.  Its  functions  are  simply  to  carry  on  research  and  ex- 
periments on  all  aspects  of  highway  construction,  to  investigate  and  approve 
state  projects,  and  to  allocate  funds,  examining  and  supervising  state  high- 
ways on  which  Federal  money  has  been  spent. 

Where  do  these  millions  of  dollars  expended  by  the  state  and  Federal  gov- 
ernments on  roads  come  from?  The  motorist  pays,  and  pays  in  full.  From  the 
moment  he  purchases  his  car,  he  automatically  begins  to  supply  the  revenue. 
It  has  been  estimated  that  10  to  15  per  cent  of  the  purchase  price  of  his  car 
represents  taxes — direct  and  indirect.  The  tax  on  his  car  and  tires,  registration 
and  license  fees  are  only  his  initial  contribution.  An  enormous  and  continuous 
form  of  revenue  derives  from  gasoline  taxes,  as  well  as  road  and  bridge  tolls. 
There  is  no  lack  of  income  from  roads.  It  amounts  to  one-seventh  of  the  total 
taxes  collected  by  Federal,  state  and  local  governments.  Yet,  although  one  and 
a  half  billion  dollars  are  paid  by  motorists  in  taxes  each  year,  three  miles  out 
of  every  four  in  this  country  are  still  dirt  roads. 

Obviously  what  has  been  happening  all  along  is  that  the  motorist  is  not  get- 
ting back,  in  the  form  of  roads  and  their  maintenance,  anywhere  near  all  the 


money  he  pays  in  the  form  of  taxes.  There  are  many  reasons  why 
he  isn't  getting  it  back.  The  most  harmless  of  these  is  that  the 
forty-eight  state  highway  departments  have  not  yet  formulated 
a  uniform  accounting  system.  It  is  very  hard  to  figure  out  how 
much  has  been  put  back  into  roads. 

Under  the  present  system  of  highway  finance,  little  considera- 
tion is  allowed  for  highways  as  one  of  America's  most  vital  public 
utilities.  The  Federal  government  is  contributing  vast  amounts  of 
money  to  them,  without  the  authority  to  plan  or  direct  construc- 
tion. Among  states  which  are  in  straitened  financial  circum- 
stances, there  is  a  growing  practice  to  divert  highway  funds  to 
other  uses. 

Diversion  might  simply  be  called  a  matter  of  financial  juggling. 
About  twenty-three  years  ago  the  public  first  became  aware  that 
motor  vehicle  tax  revenues  and  other  highway  funds  were  being 
used  for  "general  purposes."  At  that  time  the  sum  involved  was 
about  $700,000.  But  by  1935,  Congressman  Cartwright,  Chair- 
man of  the  House  Committee  on  Roads,  charged  that  the  diver- 
sion had  reached  such  an  extent  that  instead  of  spending  all  motor 
revenues  on  highway  building,  maintenance  and  the  retirement 
of  obligations,  in  that  year  diversion  reached  the  "staggering 
sum"  of  $146,449,711.  This  amount  of  money  could  build 
300  miles  of  the  most  advanced  type  of  divided  highways  with 
grade  separation  at  all  crossings — more  miles  of  this  type  of 


highway  than  are  in  existence  in  the  United  States  today  after     | 
thirty  years  of  road  building.  Instead,  over  $86,000,000  of  it 
went  into  general  state  funds,  $15,000,000  into  relief,  $31,000,- 
000  to  education,  "and  the  rest  into  airports,  oyster  propagation, 


Above:  ONE  FUEL  BUT  TWO 


United  States  Department  of  Agriculture 

etc."  Congressman  Cartwright  summed  up  the  situation  by  saying:  "Wearing 
the  decoration  of  the  double  cross,  the  American  motorist,  some  twenty-five 
million  of  him,  arises  to  ask  why  he  should  continue  to  stand  for  taxation 
without  representation — a  small  matter  about  which  America  once  fought 
a  war." 

Two  years  later,  a  highway  engineer  and  President  of  the  Portland  Cement 
Association,  Frank  T.  Sheets,  speaking  at  an  annual  meeting  of  the  Greater 
New  York  Safety  Council,  also  charged  that  a  high  percentage  of  highway 
funds  was  being  misused  throughout  the  nation.  He  said,  "We  are  now  col- 
lecting in  motor  imposts  (license  fees,  miscellaneous  fees  and  motor  fuel 
taxes)  about  one  billion  dollars  a  year.  .  .  .  But  what  have  we  been  doing 


with  these  funds?"  He  explained  that  $147,000,000  a  year  is  being  diverted 
from  highway  use,  and  another  $144,000,000  a  year  is  being  handed  back  to 
political  subdivisions  to  be  expended  without  any  supervision  by  the  states  and 
without  any  definite  plan. 

Governor  J.  M.  Futrell  of  Arkansas,  several  years  ago,  became  aware  that 
his  state's  highway  funds  were  mysteriously  disappearing.  He  flatly  expressed 
his  belief  that  the  proceeds  of  Arkansas  highway  bonds  aggregating  $163,- 
000,000  had  not  found  their  way  into  actual  road  construction.  "It  is  my 
opinion,"  he  said,  "that  a  fair  appraisal  of  our  roads  will  show  a  50  per  cent 
value  of  the  bond  issues.  Properly  invested,  $81,500,000  would  have  given  us 
a  better  system  of  highways,  and,  certainly,  a  better  constructed  one."  The 
Governor  did  not  state  specifically  what  had  happened  to  the  money,  merely 
remarking  that  it  had  gone  "like  water." 

Frequently  such  bonds  were  bought  by  investors  in  other  parts  of  the  coun- 
try. Local  citizens  were  so  pleased  with  the  sudden  influx  of  ready  money  that 
they  did  not  trouble  to  count  the  cost.  Nor  did  they  make  any  effort  to  pre- 
vent dishonest  administration  of  highway  funds.  The  citizens  who  used  and 
paid  for  the  roads  began  to  realize  how  thoroughly  they  were  cheated  when 
many  miles  of  road  crumbled  after  just  a  year  of  use.  A  report  of  the  High- 
way Audit  Commission  of  Arkansas  indicated  overcharges  of  over  $4,000,- 
000  on  one  job  of  $10,000,000! 

Economically  and  ethically,  diversion  of  highway  funds  can  only  lead  to 
disaster.  The  result  of  it  is  that,  as  Chester  H.  Gray,  Director  of  the  National 
Highway  Users  Conference,  wrote,  "States  which  are  now  guilty  of  diversion 
of  highway  funds  see  their  roads  deteriorating."  In  several  states,  constitu- 
tional amendments  have  been  introduced  to  forbid  the  use  of  highway  funds 
for  any  except  highway  purposes. 

Then  comes  the  large  and  shadowy  subject  of  graft.  Graft,  after  all,  is  just 



another  kind  of  diversion — the  use  of  road  funds  not  for  the  interest  of  the 
people,  but  for  the  interests  of  certain  individuals. 

Wastage  of  highway  funds  is  a  time-honored  practice.  As  far  back  as  1831, 
Lemuel  H.  Arnold,  a  candidate  for  Governor  of  Rhode  Island,  was  accused 
of  instigating  a  fraudulent  deal  involving  the  Providence  and  Pawtucket 
Turnpike.  It  was  charged  that  as  members  of  the  General  Assembly,  he  and 
an  associate  had  tried  to  get  the  Turnpike  to  buy  up,  at  an  inflated  figure,  a 
section  of  road  of  which  they  were  trustees.  They  were  further  to  receive  a 
heavy  annual  cut  of  the  tolls  paid  and  were  to  pad  their  maintenance  costs. 

A  fantastic  case  of  graft  was  the  grandiose  scheme  devised  in  1871  by  New 


York's  master  corruptionist,  William  H.  Tweed,  to  carve  a  monumental 
boulevard  out  of  the  wild  ledges  from  Nyack  to  Hook  Mountain,  where  a 
scenic  hotel  was  to  be  built.  Contractors  grew  rich  on  the  project,  but  some- 
how they  were  never  required  to  produce  the  road.  Finally  work  was  begun 
in  earnest — in  1939. 

The  same  theme,  an  air  with  variations,  is  heard  at  regular  intervals  in  al- 
most every  state  in  the  Union.  The  highway  construction  companies  and 
the  inducements  they  offer  for  preferred  consideration  when  contracts  are 
awarded  are  a  special  temptation  to  many  highway  officials.  All  this  tends  to 
boost  building  and  materials  costs  at  the  start.  In  July,  1939,  the  Governor  of 
Louisiana  uncovered  an  instance  of  this  and  obtained  the  resignation  of  the 
head  of  his  Highway  Commission.  Before  that,  it  was  Ohio's  turn.  In  1938, 
Governor  Davey  ordered  Harry  A.  Sparks,  an  engineer  in  the  State  Highway 
Department,  to  be  dropped  from  the  payroll.  Mr.  Sparks  had  testified  before 
a  State  Senate  Committee  that  estimates  were  padded  so  that  a  ring  of  bitu- 
minous road  material  men  could  make  exorbitant  profits  in  selling  the  state 
the  material  used  to  produce  tar  roads.  The  state  had  paid  $  14  per  cubic  yard 
for  bituminous  material  which  the  Federal  government  buys  at  $6.56!  Mr. 
Sparks  also  charged  that  the  state  had  wasted  $2, 000, 000  on  bituminous  roads 
within  two  years.  The  same  investigation  disclosed  that  the  State  of  Ohio  had 
been  charged  $9,000,000  for  surfacing  material  which  should  have  cost  just 
half  the  amount.  One  company  testified  that  it  had  to  pay  twenty-five  cents 
to  an  associate  at  Democratic  headquarters  for  each  ton  it  sold  to  the  state. 

These  are  figures  on  the  accountants'  books.  They  don't  include  the  multi- 
fold unaccountable  expenditures.  The  practice  of  purchasing  the  roads  through 
private  construction  companies  probably  adds  a  few  more  million  dollars  of 
overcharges,  extras,  and  exorbitant  expenditures  beyond  a  fair  construction 
cost.  The  fact  of  the  story  is  that  the  money  wasn't  properly  spent.  It 


bought  roads  that  through  inferior  specifications  and  contracting  lined  the 
builders'  pockets. 

A  recent  example  of  highway  graft  occurred  in  the  construction  of  Con- 
necticut's Merritt  Parkway.  A  report  to  Governor  Wilbur  S.  Cross  listed  the 
types  of  crookedness  that  appeared  there.  Highway  contracts  were  rigged. 
Miles  of  roadside  graded  by  one  highway  unit  were  torn  up  by  another. 
Cracked  concrete  bridges  were  approved.  Road  materials  were  inadequately 
tested,  and  credibly  enough,  the  work  was  poorly  inspected.  Land  assessed  at 
about  $14,000  was  sold  to  the  state  by  one  of  its  legislators  and  members  of 
his  family  for  $100,000!  In  Greenwich,  the  state  paid  over  $1,000,000  for 
land  assessed  at  less  than  one-tenth  that  sum. 

A  land  agent  for  the  state  in  Merritt  Parkway  deals,  G.  Leroy  Kemp,  was 
charged  with  having  conspired  to  divide  commissions  with  two  real-estate 
brokers  representing  persons  who  sold  much  of  the  land  to  the  state.  He  was 
convicted.  Another  state  purchasing  agent  refused  to  buy  a  piece  of  land  at 
$16,000,  yet  paid  $24,750  for  the  same  property  immediately  after  a  woman 


had  purchased  it  at  the  lower  figure.  As  a  result  of  this  and  other  similar  trans- 
actions, the  same  woman  received  $245,000  from  the  state  for  property  ac- 
quired by  the  Merritt  Parkway  project.  Notable  among  her  real-estate  ven- 
tures was  the  sale  to  the  state  of  a  house — not  once  but  twice. 

As  a  result  of  grand  jury  investigations,  Governor  Cross  asked  for  and  re- 
ceived the  resignation  of  a  State  Highway  Commissioner.  After  this,  the  land 
required  to  complete  the  Parkway  was  acquired  at  reasonable  cost.  Condemna- 
tion proceedings  were  effective  wherever  excessive  prices  were  asked. 

Nobody  has  ever  yet  attempted  to  figure  out  how  much  money  has  found 
its  way  from  the  highway  into  the  pockets  of  grafters.  Nor  is  it  possible  to 
estimate  how  many  citizens  are  killed  and  maimed  in  highway  accidents  on 
faultily  constructed  or  inadequate  roads,  the  funds  for  which  were,  legally 
or  illegally,  diverted.  But  it  is  possible  to  estimate  the  number  of  people  who 
have  been  victims  of  these  modern  highwaymen.  The  number  exactly  equals 
the  total  population  of  this  country. 

Because  of  the  difficulty  in  detecting  graft,  it  is  also  difficult  to  know  where 
to  place  the  blame  for  it  and  how  to  prevent  it.  Dishonesty  is  insidious;  it 
creeps  in  surreptitiously  even  in  well-guarded  places.  It  is  certain  that  the 
restraining  influence  of  the  U.  S.  Public  Roads  Administration  holds  a  great 
deal  of  potential  graft  in  check.  Chief  Thomas  H.  MacDonald  is  a  scrupu- 
lously honest  administrator,  and  he  has  always  demanded  similar  quality  in 
his  associates  and  on  all  road  construction  over  which  he  has  had  authority  as 
a  result  of  Federal  aid.  But  in  spite  of  his  vigilance  and  the  honesty  of  many 
other  public  officials — local,  state  and  Federal — graft  continues  to  thwart 
highway  progress  in  many  ways. 

Graft,  as  everyone  knows,  cannot  be  prevented  by  constitutional  amend- 
ment. It  forces  itself  on  the  minds  of  citizens  not  so  much  because  it  means 
crime  as  because  it  means  waste  and  inefficiency.  Elimination  of  graft  will  not, 


all  of  itself,  give  you  an  efficient  highway  system.  But  it  will  give  you  twice 
as  much  for  your  money. 

A  figure  by  now  familiar  is  this:  the  cost  to  business  of  delay  due  to  con- 
gested traffic  runs  as  high  as  $1,000,000  a  day  in  New  York  City  alone.  An- 
other revealing  statement  is  this,  made  by  the  National  Safety  Council:  the 
money  wasted  in  1937  traffic  accidents  would  have  built  thirty-five  Empire 
State  Buildings  or  sixty-five  ocean  liners  like  the  Queen  Mary.  Such  facts 
bring  us  up  against  the  basic  question:  if  we  want  a  system  of  highways  that 
will  put  an  end  to  this  appalling  toll,  how  will  we  keep  grafters,  diversionists, 
and  log-rollers  from  running  off  with  a  large  share  of  the  money? 

Whatever  such  highways  will  be,  they  should  not  be  laid  down  hit  or  miss 
by  those  in  authority  in  thousands  of  local  communities.  Highway  undertak- 
ings are  not  local  enterprises,  or  at  least  should  not  be,  because  highways  or  any 
individual  parts  of  them  go  to  make  up  a  complete  national  highway  trans- 
portation system.  Building  small  sections  of  highways  under  local  jurisdiction 
without  fully  understanding  the  part  which  such  highways  must  play  in  the 
whole  national  transportation  network  cannot  produce  a  unified  national 
highway  plan  for  automobile  transportation.  At  present  the  Federal  govern- 
ment is,  however,  empowered  to  do  little  more  than  confer  with  local  bodies, 
grant  them  money,  and  then  erect  the  august  "U.S."  shield  on  the  roadside, 
although  Washington  spends  a  sum  of  over  $200,000,000  annually  for  road- 
building  and  grade-crossing  elimination,  to  supplement  the  contributions  of 
the  individual  states. 

Efficient  national  highway  transportation  is  as  vital  to  the  well-being  of 
the  American  public  as  is  the  efficient  transportation  of  mail  and  other  similar 


undertakings  of  the  Federal  government.  There  is  a  Federal  obligation  to 
develop  the  country's  resources  of  land,  water  power,  and  natural  wealth.  And 
there  is  no  single  undertaking  more  important  to  these  obligations  than  the 
development  of  facilities  for  national  transportation. 

That  Federal  agencies  can  do  such  work  is  abundantly  proven,  if  only  by 
the  record  of  the  Army  Engineer  Corps.  This  organization  built  the  Panama 
Canal.  It  built,  among  other  dams,  the  great  Bonneville  structure  in  Oregon. 
It  is  now  building  a  few  roads  in  Texas  for  the  Air  Corps.  Compared  to  what 
goes  on  in  usual  highway  construction,  there  is  very  little  inefficiency  in  the 
Army.  And  as  for  graft — if  graft  were  exposed  and  proven  before  an  army 
court  martial,  the  punishments  would  be  so  severe  that  they  would  be  a 
strong  deterrent  to  any  further  dishonesty. 

Many  highway  authorities  put  forth  the  argument  that  Federal  road 
building  might  be  considered  as  part  of  the  Federal  government's  obligation 
to  develop  the  country.  Few  Federal  activities  are  profitable  in  the  sense  of 
commercial  undertakings  which  must  show  an  immediate  cash  return  to 
justify  the  investment.  The  Federal  government  is  the  only  agency  constitu- 
tionally responsible  for  general  welfare  in  its  broadest  sense.  The  American 
people  would  not  willingly  break  up  among  the  forty-eight  states  the  Federal 
government's  responsibility  for  carrying  the  mails.  They  would  not  dispense 
with  their  Navy,  or  the  Panama  Canal,  even  though  these  maritime  ventures 
may  seem  remote  to  most  of  those  who  dwell  inland.  They  take  for  granted 
the  purchase  of  an  enormous  and  relatively  isolated  section  of  land  such  as 
Alaska,  and  they  approve  the  maintenance  of  large  public  parks,  such  as 
Yellowstone,  for  the  enjoyment  of  tourists.  All  of  these  are  costly  ventures, 


yet  the  Federal  obligation  to  see  them  through  seems  as  natural  as  a  parent's 
responsibility  to  put  his  child  through  school.  The  paternal  relationship  re- 
quires intelligent  and  unsparing  development  of  the  child's  abilities.  In  similar 
fashion,  there  is  a  Federal  obligation  to  develop  the  country's  resources  of  land 
and  its  facilities  for  transport. 

Once  that  obligation  is  fully  recognized  as  applying  to  the  American  high- 
way system,  work  can  begin.  First  of  all,  people  will  stop  thinking  about  indi- 
vidual highways,  laid  down  from  here  to  there  because  of  a  burst  of  inspira- 
tion by  some  state  or  county  commission.  They  will  start  thinking  about  an 
organized  system  of  highways,  laid  out  according  to  a  national  plan.  They 
won't  congratulate  themselves  on  finding  that  this  stretch  or  that  stretch  of 
road  is  being  built  honestly  and  efficiently.  They  will  demand  that  kind  of 
building  from  the  system  as  a  whole.  They  will  not  have  to  go  to  work  throw- 
ing out  and  replacing  a  whole  panel  of  local  officials  in  order  to  get  a  notorious 
local  bottleneck  straightened  out.  Once  they  stop  buying  their  roads  in  little 
chunks,  from  time  to  time,  from  corner  dealers  whose  rating  is  often  question- 
able, they  will  no  longer  find  themselves  being  short-changed. 

Bad  roads  are  more  expensive  to  travel  on  and  to  maintain  than  good  ones. 
That  is  the  argument  which  stands  head  and  shoulders  above  all  technical 
disagreements  over  "broad"  versus  "strict"  interpretations  of  the  Constitu- 
tion, or  over  central  versus  local  government.  The  corollary  of  that  argument 
is  that  good  roads  are  a  sound  investment.  Poor  roads  are  an  economic  liability. 

The  greatest  political  grab  bag  today  for  making  up  deficits  and  for  pad- 
ding political  pockets  is  made  up  from  the  appropriations  voted  for  the  con- 
struction and  improvement  of  the  country's  highways — the  routes  that  are 
such  a  vital  part  of  the  nation's  transportation  system.  As  a  result  of  this, 
highways  are  poorly  constructed,  are  expensively  constructed,  are  in  constant 
need  of  repair,  and  the  transportation  of  goods  and  men  bears  the  resultant 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garriso 


burden.  The  many  taxes  and  imposts  which  go  to  make  up  these  appropria- 
tions are  out  of  all  proportion  to  the  benefits  received.  Good  highways  cost 
money — a  great  deal  of  money — but  if  that  money  were  put  into  their  con- 
struction, instead  of  into  oyster  propagation  or  other  similarly  unrelated  en- 
terprises, the  motor  transportation  system  of  this  country  would  benefit  so 
directly  that  the  return  would  justify  the  investment. 




HEN  a  small  town  succeeds  in  getting  a  fine  new  highway  put  right 
through  its  center,  it  gets  not  only  contact  with  the  outside  world;  it  gets 
impact,  it  gets  congestion.  The  new  road  carries  a  far  heavier  load  than  the 
town's  own  traffic.  A  storm  of  cars  hits  the  town:  impersonal  cars,  through 
motorists,  faces  no  one  in  town  knows,  all-night  trucking.  With  them  they 
bring  noise,  dirt  and  traffic  accidents.  The  town  gets  more  new  neighbors  than 
it  bargained  for.  And  most  of  them  are  not  neighbors  at  all.  They  have  no 
business  with  the  town  and  regard  it  as  just  another  nuisance  along  the 

Early  in  the  century,  the  small  American  town  was  in  many  respects  what 
a  community  should  be:  quiet,  livable,  spacious,  blending  with  the  country- 
side and  serving  as  a  focus  for  a  whole  rural  area.  The  roads  on  which  it  de- 
pended had  been  built  when  the  town  was  first  developed.  Its  streets  were 
really  country  roads,  widened  and  lined  with  great  trees.  On  shaded  avenues 
houses  stood  back  far  enough  to  avoid  summer  dust,  but  not  so  far  back  that 
their  inhabitants  couldn't  watch  their  neighbors'  wagons  and  buggies  as  they 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

passed.  All  of  the  streets  but  one  or  two  were 
residential.  The  business  area  was  limited,  not 
by  legislation  but  by  volume.  In  many  cases, 
the  main  artery  for  carrying  on  a  town's  com- 
mercial activities  was  not  a  road  at  all,  but  an 
old  state  canal  or  the  local  railroad  branch. 

On  the  town  streets,  the  lone  grocery  wagon 
was  often  the  only  moving  vehicle  in  sight.  It 
was  no  traffic  menace.  It  never  even  came  near 
bumping  into  another  wagon  or  running  any- 
one down.  If  anyone  strolled  out  in  front  of  the 
horse,  its  driver  pulled  up  or  around  to  let  him 
pass.  And  when,  in  turn,  the  driver,  his  work 

COUNTRY  TOWN— OLD  STYLE     """  finished,  ambled  from  the  grocery  over  to  the 

drug  store  for  a  soda,  he  never  thought  of  going  to  the  corner  crossing  or  of 
looking  to  right  or  left  for  any  approaching  vehicle.  If  he  met  a  friend  in  the 
middle  of  that  leisurely  sixty-foot-wide  street,  they  might  stop  to  talk  of 
many  things,  but  never  about  traffic. 

When  the  railroad  came  to  town,  it  was  a  great  event.  A  "main-line"  rail- 
road through  a  particular  locality  established  that  locality  as  a  coming  center. 
Older  citizens  sitting  around  the  stove  in  the  grocery  store  loved  to  talk  of 
how  cheering  crowds  welcomed  the  first  train.  Today  anyone  who  has  seen  a 
smoky  and  tumble-down  Railroad  Avenue  that  was  once  a  choice  residential 
street  would  think  that  the  thousands  of  American  towns  which  welcomed 
the  railroads'  entry  had  carried  their  enthusiasm  to  an  unfortunate  extreme. 
But  at  the  time  it  was  essential  for  those  towns  to  make  contact  with  the 
outside  world.  They  were  only  too  ready  to  grant  the  railroad  any  right  of 
way  it  wanted. 


Highways  came  into  town  a  little  more  gradually.  There  was  no  autocratic 
corporation  behind  them,  dictating  terms.  The  first  thing  that  happened  was 
simply  that  the  town  paved  "Main  Street."  Then  the  road  to  the  next  town 
was  improved  to  take  care  of  the  farm  produce  that  was  just  beginning  to 
come  through  by  trucks  to  the  freight  depot.  If  anyone  had  then  told  a  local 
citizen  that,  by  allowing  a  state  highway  to  route  itself  through  Main  Street, 
his  town  was  giving  up  its  old-time  privacy,  he  would  have  laughed.  His  town 
had  endured  isolation  long  enough.  And  if  anyone  had  told  the  highway  build- 
ers that  by  using  Main  Street  to  pass  through  town  the  highway  was  slowing 
down  traffic  and  loosing  a  certain  amount  of  its  value  as  a  means  of  through 
transportation,  he  would  have  been  regarded  as  queer.  But  these  two  things 
are  just  what  happens  when  a  highway  is  routed  through  a  town.  A  quiet  com- 
munity suddenly  has  to  exert  control  over  an  inter-city  express  system.  The 
local  law  enforcement  officer,  the  constable,  becomes  the  local  traffic  author- 
ity. This  local  traffic  authority,  who  has  never 
had  even  a  serious  parking  problem  to  handle, 
suddenly  has  what  is  in  effect  a  national  travel 
problem.  No  matter  how  good  his  intentions 
may  be,  he  is  primarily  looking  out  for  the  in- 
terests of  his  own  town,  not  of  this  national 
travel.  And  tens  of  thousands  of  separate  au- 
thorities, looking  out  for  tens  of  thousands  of 
separate  localities,  when  added  up  together  don't 
constitute  the  one  great  authority  that  is  essen- 
tial for  the  operation  of  an  efficient  national 
highway  system.  The  smaller  the  unit  of  gov- 
ernment that  exercises  authority  over  road 
building  and  control,  and  the  more  dispersed 


these  units  are,  the  less  continuity  of  route  and  surface  there  is.  When  road 
building  depends  on  local  and  personal  whims,  a  four-lane  highway  is  likely 
to  be  sent  swooping  through  a  mess  of  haberdasheries  and  then,  without  ex- 
planation, to  peter  out  at  the  town  or  county  line  into  a  narrow  macadam 
road.  This  naturally  slows  down  the  through  motorist.  It  is  not  the  only 
unfortunate  result,  however,  of  routing  highways  through  towns. 

R.  E.  Toms,  Chief  of  the  Division  of  Design  of  the  Public  Roads  Adminis- 
tration, has  said  that  from  a  quarter  to  a  half  of  all  roads  built  during  the 
past  twenty  years  are  unfit  for  the  high-speed  traffic  they  now  carry.  In  few 
instances  is  this  more  clearly  shown  than  on  the  patchwork  routes  which  con- 
nect many  of  our  small  communities.  Four-lane  roads  suddenly  converge  into 
two.  Paved  roads  give  way  to  dust,  and  then,  unexpectedly,  to  pavement 
again.  In  New  England,  a  sign  marking  the  "Edge  of  Dover"  all  too  often 
marks  off  the  end  of  human  comfort  until  the  driver  has  slowly  jogged  his 
way  to  the  next  sign  announcing  a  new  town's  limits  and  another  decent  road 
surface.  In  Kansas,  the  Emporia  Weekly  Gazette  recently  advocated  a  "county 
unit  road  system"  to  avoid  the  "typical  township  road — a  road  which  nine 
times  out  of  ten  is  narrow,  bumpy,  unkept  and  in  some  cases  unsur faced." 

Naturally  the  local  authorities  have  not  hesitated  to  try  out  all  sorts  of  re- 
strictive controls  on  through  traffic.  Forced  to  provide  special  constables  to 
control  traffic  which  pays  no  local  taxes,  many  communities  have  resorted  to 
paying  the  salaries  of  such  officers  with  fees  collected  from  the  motorists  whom 
they  arrest.  In  the  latest  report  of  the  Highway  Safety  Commission  of  Con- 
necticut, it  was  noted  that  thirty  towns  in  that  state  had  traffic  constables 
paid  solely  on  this  basis,  and  that  "in  some  places,  the  number  of  arrests  is  so 
disproportionate  to  that  in  adjoining  towns  as  to  lead  to  the  inference  that 
arrests  are  sought  by  the  constables  to  swell  their  income,  rather  than  provide 
safety  on  the  roads."  Speed  traps,  designed  to  line  the  town  coffers,  are  grossly 


unfair  to  the  tourist,  who  has  little  recourse  against  local  authority. 

On  the  other  hand,  when  their  own  constituents  are  concerned,  local  of- 
ficials have  been  slow  to  put  through  the  most  necessary  traffic  reforms.  Pedes- 
trians are  allowed  to  jaywalk  at  their  own  risk.  Heavily  traveled  streets  are 
obstructed  by  diagonal  parking.  More  consideration  is  given  to  soft  drink 
shacks  and  hot  dog  stands  than  to  clear  vision  at  the  intersections  where  they 
spring  up.  Towns  once  so  charming  that  they  might  have  been  a  special  attrac- 
tion to  tourists  have  been  so  disfigured  by  catch-penny  signs  that  the  motorist 
flees  on,  too  harassed  by  local  restrictions  to  stop  and  fulfill  the  exalted  hopes 
which  local  merchants  entertained  when  a  highway  past  their  shops  was  first 

The  custom  of  locating  business  where  traffic  is  thickest  dates  back  to  the 
days  of  more  sparse  and  leisurely  transport,  when  it  was  really  necessary.  To- 
day there  are  still  plenty  of  vociferous  small- town  merchants  who,  overlook- 
ing the  chaos  that  results,  insist  on  thrusting  their  communities  upon  the  at- 
tention of  motorists  in  the  baldest  possible  fashion.  For  example,  when  the 
Bronx  River  Parkway  Extension  was  run  within  a  hundred  feet  of  Valhalla, 
New  York,  shrubbery  was  planted  to  act  as  a  screen  between  the  community 
and  through  traffic.  So  well  did  the  shrubbery  grow,  and  so  effectively  did  it 
serve  its  purpose,  that  the  local  merchants  demanded  that  it  be  cut  away  in 
order  to  keep  the  town  from  becoming  "a  forgotten  village."  The  merchants' 
indignation  grew  even  faster  than  the  bushes.  They  explained  that  "the  trees 
just  about  eliminate  us  from  the  outside  world.  Five  thousand  cars  often  pass 
Valhalla  every  hour  without  seeing  our  Broadway,  close  as  it  is."  On  the  other 
hand,  in  many  New  England  communities,  more  foresighted  residents  have 
protested  in  vain  against  the  devastation  of  their  privacy  by  state  highways 
routed  through  the  main  streets  and  the  town  center. 

The  argument  that  a  re-routing  of  through  traffic  means  a  loss  of  business 


to  a  town  brings  up  the  question:  "What  kind  of  business?"  It  does  not  seem 
credible  that  the  Main  Street  merchant  of  recognized  wares  would  lose  any- 
thing if  the  hordes  of  cars  whose  only  interest  is  to  get  through  and  out  of  the 
town  never  went  through  it  at  all.  On  the  other  hand,  that  merchant  is  prob- 
ably losing  business  today  simply  because  of  the  through  traffic  that  stampedes 



FROM   "LIFE,"    1907 

Harry  L.  Newman 

past  his  windows.  It  doesn't  stop,  except  for  the  traffic  light;  but  it  does  have 
the  effect  of  stopping  his  own  regular  customers  from  getting  to  him  and  com- 
fortably parking  near  by.  What  has  actually  happened  is  that,  in  reaching  out 
for  the  lunch-counter  trade  of  tourist  cars,  his  town  has  lowered  its  own  liv- 
ing standard  and  injured  its  own  basic  trade.  It  has  allowed  a  fringe  of  fly-by- 
night  stands  and  shanties  to  be  set  up  around  its  approaches,  and  in  doing  so 


has  both  provided  itself  with  a  roadside  slum  and  crippled  its  own  chances  for 
growth.  It  has  failed  to  see  that  the  interests  of  local  traffic  are  exactly  opposite 
to  those  of  through  traffic.  And  on  its  congested  and  disrupted  Main  Street 
the  two  kinds  of  traffic  are  left  to  fight  it  out. 

Furthermore,  rural  safety  vanishes  with  rural  peace.  In  1924,  the  number 
of  motor  accidents  in  rural  localities  and  in  large  cities  was  about  the  same, 
approximately  ten  thousand  each.  Since  then  the  number  of  such  accidents 
in  rural  areas  and  small  communities  has  increased  by  more  than  170  per  cent 
as  compared  with  a  30  per  cent  increase  in  the  cities  of  over  ten  thousand 

Roads  littered  with  mile  after  mile  of  billboards,  tourist  camps,  roadhouses 
and  auto  graveyards  not  only  injure  neighboring  towns  and  local  traffic,  but 
impede  the  very  through  traffic  which  they  are  designed  to  attract.  For  exam- 
ple, fifteen  thousand  cars  a  day  use  the  recently  built  Garvey  Avenue,  a  high- 
speed artery  leading  out  of  dense  Los  Angeles  across  the  San  Gabriel  Valley  in 
California.  But  besides  merely  traveling  on  the  road,  these  cars  are  hailed  by 
countless  roadside  signs  to  stop  and  buy  Siamese  cats,  second-hand  plumbing, 
and  the  assorted  goods  of — by  actual  count — over  three  hundred  mushroom 
businesses.  Highway  engineers  estimate  that  cars  parking  in  front  of  the  stands 
and  cutting  in  and  out  of  traffic  to  reach  them  destroy  at  least  5  0  per  cent  of 
the  highway's  efficiency. 

"What  has  happened  is  that  the  relationship  which  should  exist  between  road 
and  surroundings  has  gone  wrong — or  rather,  there  isn't  any  relationship. 
Everyone  just  tries  to  get  through  as  best  he  can,  running  the  gauntlet  of  a 
chaos  of  laws  and  landscape.  But  in  order  to  see  what  can  be  done — and  how 
easy  it  is  to  do  it — take  the  example  of  the  Skyline  Boulevard,  another 
California  highway,  which  runs  south  from  San  Francisco  along  the  crest  of 
the  Santa  Cruz  Mountains,  leading  past  commanding  views  of  the  Pacific. 


Farther  south,  the  highway  skirts  great  redwood  forests.  For  80  miles, 
through  San  Mateo  and  Santa  Clara  counties,  not  a  billboard  obstructs  the 
view.  Legitimate  business  along  the  way  is  provided  for  at  seven  restricted 
points.  Strict  control  is  exercised  over  the  appearance  and  location  of  the  few 
types  of  retail  business  which  are  permitted,  and  shops  are  set  back  from  the 
highway  to  allow  their  customers  to  park  without  obstructing  the  flow  of 
traffic.  The  long  stretches  between  these  limited  districts  are  zoned  against 
business.  There  are  two  results  to  this  zoning  rule:  first,  highway  investment 
is  protected ;  second,  pleasant  motoring  is  promoted. 

Both  the  American  Automobile  Association  and  the  American  Planning 
and  Civic  Association  advocate  passage  by  all  states  of  a  uniform  highway  law 
which  would  establish  such  control  for  all  main  highways.  The  value  and 
sightliness  of  non-commercial  property  would  be  maintained  by  zoning,  and 
new  building  would  be  prohibited  within  50  feet  of  the  road.  An  exception 
is  made  for  wayside  stands  selling  the  produce  of  land  immediately  adjacent, 
but  even  these  stands  would  be  set  back  25  feet  from  the  road  so  that  cus- 
tomers would  not  park  on  the  roadbed. 

The  Public  Roads  Administration  stipulates  that  at  least  1  per  cent  of 
all  Federal  highway  funds  must  be  devoted  to  roadside  development.  From  the 
old  practice  of  holding  each  farmer  responsible  for  mowing  down  the  under- 
brush along  his  own  fence  and  ditch,  America  has  advanced  to  a  point  where 
public  interest  in  the  roadside  is  widespread,  and  government  responsibility 



for  it  is  somewhat  more  generally  recognized.  One  midwestern  state  spends 
over  six  hundred  thousand  dollars  a  season  just  to  eliminate  weed  growth  along 
its  highways. 

Recently  built  motor  parkways  show  how  much  more  pleasant  driving  can 
be  when  a  positive  and  constructive  stand  is  taken  toward  all  the  roadside 
factors.  Here  the  road's  environment  is  controlled,  not  by  restrictive  meas- 
ures, but  by  the  outright  ownership  of  a  right  of  way  sufficiently  wide  to 
protect  all  interests  involved:  the  motorist,  the  adjacent  land-owners,  and  the 
state.  The  land  on  either  side  of  the  road  is  landscaped  to  conform  with  the 
local  setting,  increasing  the  pleasure  of  rural  driving  and  preventing  com- 
mercial exploitation  of  the  public  investment.  It  acts  as  a  buffer  between  the 
stream  of  traffic  and  neighboring  homes.  While  on  the  old  type  of  highways 
widening  is  often  made  prohibitively  expensive  by  the  necessity  of  condemn- 
ing new  buildings  which  have  encroached  on  the  road,  and  the  inflation  of  land 
values  since  the  original  pavement  was  laid,  the  parkway  can  easily  be  enlarged 
to  take  care  of  growing  traffic.  For  the  state  always  has  the  land. 

To  achieve  these  satisfactory  road  conditions,  planning  is  first  applied  to 
the  road  itself,  freeing  it  of  crosscurrents  and  the  annoyances  of  driving 
through  business  sections.  Then  planning  is  applied  to  the  surroundings,  in 
order  to  create  a  harmonious  environment.  The  third  point  at  which  planning 
is  applied  is  obviously  the  community  itself.  The  outcome  of  establishing  a  fruit- 
ful relationship  between  town  and  road  is  that  life  becomes  more  pleasant  not 
only  for  the  motorist,  but  for  the  resident  as  well.  This  cannot  be  achieved 
by  traffic  laws.  It  can  only  be  achieved  by  design.  As  long  as  highways  pass 
through  towns,  cars  will  pass  through  towns.  If  the  principle  is  to  be  estab- 
lished that  fast  traffic  should  not  go  through  a  town,  this  must  be  made 
physically  impossible. 

There  are  communities  in  the  United  States  in  which  this  principle  has 



Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

taken  concrete  form.  The  first  one  of  this  sort  was  built  upon  plans  drawn  by 
Henry  Wright  in  1929,  at  Radburn,  New  Jersey.  Here  homes  turn  their  back 
doors  on  the  street,  fronting  instead  on  green  parks  and  safe  playgrounds  in- 
side the  large  residential  blocks.  These  neighborhood  units  are  united  by  a 
single  community  center,  where  all  shopping  and  business  can  be  attended  to 
without  the  necessity  of  having  to  repark  the  car  several  times  in  front  of 
scattered  shops.  Short-stop  local  traffic  is  reduced  by  this  centralization. 
Through  traffic  in  residential  sections  is  discouraged  by  the  discontinuous 
pattern  of  local  streets.  Foot  traffic  has  its  own  walkways  separated  from  mov- 
ing cars  by  over-  and  underpasses.  Radburn  effectively  shows  how  a  com- 
munity can  preserve  its  privacy  and  at  the  same  time  maintain  full  contact 


with  the  rest  of  the  world.  Radburn  is  one  instance  of  a  town  that  is  sold  to  the 
hilt.  People  want  to  live  in  it.  Tourists  want  to  visit  it.  There  is  no  trouble 
driving  into  it.  But  neither  are  there  lines  of  through  motorists  piled  up  in  it, 
all  impatient  and  all  blowing  their  horns. 

Similar  examples  of  town  planning  from  the  ground  up  are  to  be  found 
at  Green  Acres,  Long  Island;  Sunnyside,  Long  Island;  Greenbelt,  Maryland; 
Buckingham,  Virginia;  and  Cerritos  Park,  California.  The  interest  of  many 
towns  in  better  traffic  control  and  better  housing  is  shown  by  the  recent  estab- 
lishment of  planning  agencies  in  Santa  Cruz,  California;  Yakima,  Washing- 
ton; Sioux  City,  South  Dakota;  Waukesha,  Wisconsin;  North  Providence, 
Massachusetts;  Austin,  Texas;  Montclair,  New  Jersey;  and  the  Kentucky 
legislature  which  recently  passed  an  enabling  law  to  permit  the  establishment 
of  planning  commissions  in  smaller  cities. 

Leonardo  da  Vinci's  request  that  the  Duke  of  Milan  permit  him  to  build  ten 
new  small  cities  in  order  "to  separate  this  great  congregation  of  people  who 
herd  together  like  goats  on  top  of  one  another"  is  one  of  the  historical  instances 
of  planning  for  small-town  development.  But  the  modern  criterion  of  a  "gar- 
den city"  in  which  the  best  features  of  town  and  country  are  to  be  preserved 
was  first  proposed  by  Sir  Ebenezer  Howard  in  1898.  His  ideal  community, 
planned  on  a  human  scale,  with  its  boundaries  predetermined  and  its  integral 
structure  designed  to  maintain  a  balanced  life,  without  confusion  or  conges- 
tion, is  yet  to  be  attained. 

The  idea  expressed  in  all  progressive  town- traffic  planning  is  this:  Of  all  the 
vehicles  on  the  road,  only  those  shall  enter  the  community  which  actually  have 
business  there;  and  of  those  which  do  enter  the  community,  only  those  shall 
enter  a  given  street  which  actually  are  being  used  in  connection  with  people 
living  in  that  street.  This  is  becoming  an  ever  more  important  principle,  be- 
cause as  towns  increase  in  size,  sentiment  grows  steadily  stronger  against  over- 



New  York  City  Park  Dept. 

loading  the  streets  with  extraneous  traffic.  What  is  offered  as  an  effective  solu- 
tion is  the  "by-pass,"  a  route  to  divert  traffic  around  the  town. 

Studies  made  of  cars  using  by-pass  routes  show  that  by  avoiding  the  inter- 
mittent starting  and  stopping  at  city  street  corners,  traffic  can  travel  one- 
third  farther  at  the  same  cost  per  trip.  By-passes  also  permit  the  realignment 
of  main  highways  so  that  the  actual  route  is  shortened  too.  They  provide  alter- 
nate routes  in  cases  of  emergency,  and  eliminate  the  need  of  costly  widening 
of  urban  streets.  Both  local  and  through  traffic  is  safer,  more  orderly  and 
expeditious  when  the  by-pass  is  used  to  segregate  them.  Before  construction 
of  the  Keyport  by-pass  in  New  Jersey,  the  old  route  from  the  coastal  resorts 


to  metropolitan  areas  carried  as  many  as  fifty  thousand  cars  a  day,  worming 
their  way  through  narrow  streets  and  past  railroad  grade  crossings  frequently 
blocked  by  passing  trains.  Through  traffic,  once  delayed  for  as  much  as  two 
hours  under  these  conditions  of  maximum  hazard  and  inconvenience,  now  has 
a  route  of  its  own,  over  a  two-and-a-half -mile  by-pass. 

Obviously  it  is  essential  that  by-passes  be  zoned  against  business,  and  that 
access  to  them  be  strictly  controlled.  Otherwise,  the  route  built  at  considerable 
expense  to  avoid  urban  congestion  would  soon  be  spoiled  by  shopkeepers 
shifting  over  to  exploit  it  and  to  use  every  eye-catching  device  to  stop  cars 
which  must  maintain  an  even  flow  if  the  by-pass  is  to  serve  its  purpose. 

The  means  are  available  to  do  two  things  at  once:  first,  to  protect  main 
highways  from  the  interruptions  of  local  traffic,  and  second,  to  protect  towns 
from  the  devastating  effect  of  through  traffic.  The  means  are  available,  but 
they  have  been  tried  only  here  and  there.  Where  they  have  actually  been  used, 
this  has  been  done  hesitantly,  piece  by  piece,  as  if  people  were  afraid  that  real 
over-all  planning  would  lead  them  too  far  astray  from  their  old  and  cumber- 
some habits. 

The  express  motorway  of  the  future  will  not  enter  towns  or  even  go  from 
town  to  town.  It  will  pass  near  to  and  serve  the  town.  It  will  take  the  town's 
needs  into  consideration,  as  well  as  its  possibilities  for  future  expansion.  Even 
the  lesser  highway  linking  two  minor  communities  will  be  planned  so  as  to 
preserve  the  integrity  of  both  those  communities.  It  will  not  clog  their  business 
areas.  It  will  not  set  up  competing  slums  along  the  roadsides.  It  will  not  cripple 
the  town's  chances  of  growth.  Its  purpose  will  be  to  make  traffic  between  one 
town  and  the  next  easier — more  safe,  more  comfortable,  more  speedy,  and 
more  economical — than  it  is  today.  It  will  do  that  first  of  all  by  segregating 
local  traffic  from  through  traffic.  It  will  serve  the  town  by  means  of  feeders 
rather  than  by  means  of  intersections.  In  no  sense  will  it  isolate  the  town  be- 


%  £ 



cause  it  passes  around  outside  of  it.  Its  whole  intention  will  be  to  reduce  the 
town's  isolation  —  to  broaden  its  radius  of  communication. 

Many  American  towns  grew  up  in  chains,  each  settlement  about  3  0  miles 
one  from  the  other.  There  was  once  an  excellent  reason  why  the  highway 
should  seek  out  the  heart  of  each  of  these  habitations  as  it  trailed  westward; 
stagecoaches  needed  a  change  of  horses,  passengers  needed  meals  and  a  rest. 
According  to  today's  range,  however,  these  successive  towns  ought  to  lie  about 
300  miles  apart.  That  is  just  another  way  of  saying  that  it  is  worse  than 
pointless  for  the  modern  car  to  have  to  stop  every  3  0  miles  just  because  the 
stagecoach  once  had  to.  The  car  will  be  benefited  if  it  can  go  straight  on. 
Driving  range  is  constantly  increasing.  The  range  of  neighbors  is  increasing. 
A  time  is  coming  when  the  man  in  the  American  small  town  will  awaken  to 
the  fact  that  he  has  two  communities  in  which  to  get  about  easily:  the  first, 
his  own  intimate  locality,  and  the  second,  his  country  at  large. 

[  200  ] 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 




HE  Rise  of  Cities"  is  so  obvious  a  contemporary  social  fact  that  it  has 
become  a  chapter  title  in  elementary  textbooks.  But,  like  many  social  facts, 
this  one  has  a  reverse  which  is  also  true. 

Beginning  with  the  industrial  revolution,  masses  of  people  moved  into  cities. 
But  now  they  are  beginning  to  reverse  the  process  and  move  out  of  the  cities. 
From  the  beginning,  social  reformers  have  been  begging  them  to  get  out. 
Robert  Owen,  the  progressive  British  industrialist,  in  1817  proposed  that  in- 
dustrial workers  lift  themselves  out  of  the  squalor  of  the  factory  system  by 
building  small  balanced  communities  in  the  open  country.  Fourier  and  Cabet 
designed  model  colonies.  In  the  1920's,  planners  in  Germany,  Sweden,  Switzer- 
land and  other  countries  actually  built  such  communities. 

But  historically  the  rebound  movement  from  the  cities  has  not  developed 
by  any  means  ideally.  As  the  central  core  of  the  metropolis  became  congested, 
its  residential  advantages  began  to  fall;  rising  land  values  rooted  out  its 
gardens  and  breathing-spaces;  then,  as  Lewis  Mumford  writes  in  The  Culture 
of  Cities,  "the  original  residential  areas  are  eaten  into  from  within,  as  if  by 



Ewing  Galloway 

termites,  as  the  original  inhabitants  move  out  and  are  replaced  by  lower 
economic  strata;  then  these  overcrowded  quarters,  serving  as  an  area  of  transi- 
tion between  the  commercial  center  and  the  better  dormitory  areas,  become 
in  their  disorder  and  their  misery  special  breeding  points  for  disease  and 
crime."  The  final  state  is  depopulation — ruined  houses,  no  rents,  no  taxes:  "a 
vast  economic  and  civic  liability." 

As  people  exhausted  this  core  they  began  to  settle  on  the  fresh  land  sur- 
rounding the  city.  Like  swarms  of  locusts  they  proceeded  to  devour  that  land, 
digesting  it  in  the  form  of  suburbs,  "developments,"  unplanned  areas  over- 
built with  cheap  speculative  housing,  until  these  areas  in  turn  left  disorder, 
blight  and  new  slums,  and  people  had  to  march  out  still  farther.  The  objective 
has  always  been  to  find  raw  land  with  excellent  transportation  into  the  city. 
The  residents  want  this;  the  real  estate  dealers  want  this;  and  the  planners  and 
visionaries  want  it.  But  they  have  all  gone  about  it  in  different  ways.  Most 
people  are  far  too  familiar  with  the  appearance  and  problems  of  their  city's 
outskirts  to  need  any  further  description  of  what  has  happened.  But  all  these 
dire  experiences  bring  home  the  point  that  in  considering  cities  one  must  first 


of  all  consider  the  tributary  districts  which  lie  outside  and  around  them. 

One  must  take  into  account  the  great  popular  impetus  from  the  center 
outward.  Great  possibilities  for  the  city  lie  in  the  land  beyond  it;  the  problem 
is  to  make  that  land  accessible,  to  preserve  it  from  exploitation  that  defeats  its 
own  purpose — in  other  words,  to  find  a  fruitful  relation  between  city  and 

Such  a  relation  is  a  problem  of  approaches — a  problem  of  communication. 
The  conventional  form  of  development  of  American  city  transit  systems  is 
that  of  revolving  in  a  vicious  circle.  In  New  York  City,  8  5  per  cent  of  the 
population  is  jammed  into  one-third  of  its  area  near  the  center,  while  the  re- 
maining 1 5  per  cent  is  spread  out  over  the  remaining  two-thirds.  This  is  due 
to  unplanned  or  misplanned  development;  to  poor  transit  facilities  at  the 
outskirts;  and  the  result  is  the  cycle  that  leads  right  around  again  to  conges- 
tion and  more  slums.  A  far-sighted  planning  of  transit  facilities  twenty  years 
ago  might  have  made  the  distribution  of  population  far  more  even  and  its 
transportation  far  simpler  and  more  convenient.  Instead  of  that,  the  city  is 
now  faced  with  the  prospect  of  spending  three  billion  dollars,  not  to  advance 
its  Regional  Plan,  but  merely  to  make  the  city  more  livable  for  its  present 
population.  This  is  glaring  evidence  of  past  failure  to  plan.  And  even  worse 
penalties  will  have  to  be  paid  in  the  future  if  planning  continues  to  be  neglected. 
Certainly  a  basic  proce- 
dure in  the  future  should 

be  to  design  transporta- 
tion projects  that  aim  at 
better  distribution  instead 
of  merely  at  making  the 
existing  congestion  a  little 
more  tolerable. 

R.  H.  Macy 



At  the  present  stage  of  highway  development  suburban  communities  spread 
out  within  a  commuting  radius  of  about  50  miles  from  a  city.  That  radius 
has  lengthened  in  recent  years  in  direct  proportion  to  the  increase  in  facilities 
for  reaching  the  city.  The  only  reason  the  people  who  go  to  work  in  the  city 
or  who  produce  something  that  is  sold  in  the  city  do  not  move  still  farther  out 
is  that  the  present  transportation  system  holds  them  in.  If  cars  could  go  twice 
as  fast  as  they  do  today,  the  accessibility  of  the  city's  surrounding  area  would 
increase  fourfold.  Assuming  that  the  population  did  not  increase,  this  would 
make  possible  a  general  thinning  out  which  would  give  everyone  freedom. 

Such  a  fourfold  growth 
of  commuting  area  would 
naturally  have  a  great 
effect  on  farm  markets. 
Land  that  today  is  prac- 
tically untouched  farm 
country,  remote  from 
centers  like  New  York 
and  Chicago,  would  be 
opened  up  and  used  spe- 
cifically to  serve  those 
cities,  bringing  in  new 
domestic  products  to  the 
cities.  In  New  York  City, 
where  the  overnight  ship- 
ping radius  is  now  200 
miles,  it  would  jump  to 
500  or  600  miles,  chang- 
ing the  entire  economy. 



Ever  since  Robert  Owen's  inspiration,  planners  have  wanted  to  realize  such 
a  distribution.  Their  thought  has  been  to  regard  the  city  as  a  working  entity 
and  the  country  as  a  living  entity.  Except  in  the  rarest  cases,  their  proposals 
have  not  been  put  into  effect.  But  the  thought  has  spread.  The  best  way  to 
break  up  urban  congestion  is  to  increase  the  radius  of  movement  around  cities. 
That  calls  for  a  new  conception  of  highways  planned  to  feed  and  draw  off 

Thus  the  effects  of  overcrowding  in  midtown  Manhattan  and  the  heart  of 
Chicago  are  not  confined  to  those  relatively  small  central  areas  themselves. 
The  forces  of  congestion  originating  there  radiate  throughout  the  city  and 
affect  traffic  congestion  in  other  boroughs  as  well  as  in  districts  out  beyond  the 
city  limits.  A  great  deal  has  been  done,  both  by  New  York  City  itself  and  by 
the  states  of  New  York  and  New  Jersey,  to  get  traffic  smoothly  in  and  out  of 
the  metropolitan  area;  but  the  capacity  and  usefulness  of  these  extensive  ap- 
proaches are  directly  dependent  on  the  capacity  of  the  streets  of  midtown 
Manhattan.  To  consider  traffic  problems  from  any  angle  soon  forces  one  to 
consider  them  from  all  angles.  To  study  highways  means  to  look  at  the  needs 
of  rural  traffic  one  moment  and  the  needs  of  urban  traffic  the  next.  It  will  not 
solve  matters  to  revise  the  system  of  approaches  while  leaving  the  system  of 
city  streets  as  it  is. 

The  Federal  Bureau  of  Public  Roads  declared  in  a  recent  report  that  the 
only  way  to  solve  the  problem  of  traffic  entering  and  leaving  a  city  is  to  pro- 
vide facilities  that  will  carry  the  heavier  traffic  right  through  the  heart  of  the 
city  and  so  on  out  to  appropriate  exit  points.  Yet  at  the  same  time,  it  declared 
that  in  the  case  of  all  large  cities  and  many  smaller  ones,  there  is  need  for  belt- 
line  distribution  roads  for  other  traffic. 

It  would  seem,  though,  that  American  traffic  experience  has  shown  that 
when  major  routes  go  directly  into  cities,  they  cause  congestion  and  confusion. 

[  209  ] 

Photo  by  General  Motors 



When,  on  the  other  hand,  they  avoid  cities  on  the  Bureau's  by-passing  "belt- 
line  distribution  roads,"  they  are  forced  out  of  their  way,  and  as  a  result  they 
lose  a  quality  that  is  essential  to  a  highway,  namely  that  of  being  the  shortest 
distance  between  two  points. 

Actually,  there  is  a  third  alternative  which  makes  the  problems  connected 
with  both  of  these  solutions  unnecessary.  It  is  to  consider  highways  as  straight- 
line  routes  laid  out  on  a  direct  course  between  the  environs  of  cities,  instead 
of  directly  from  the  center  of  one  city  to  the  center  of  another.  Tradition, 
true  enough,  calls  upon  the  road  to  steer  straight  for  the  heart  of  town.  But  if 
the  purpose  of  the  motorway  as  now  conceived  is  that  of  being  a  high-speed 
non-stop  thoroughfare,  the  motorway  would  only  bungle  that  job  if  it  got 
tangled  up  with  a  city.  It  would  lose  its  integrity.  The  motorway  should  serve 
heavily  populated  areas,  but  it  does  not  have  to  connect  population  hubs  di- 
rectly. A  great  motorway  has  no  business  cutting  a  wide  swath  right  through 
a  town  or  city  and  destroying  the  values  there;  its  place  is  in  the  country, 
where  there  is  ample  room  for  it  and  where  its  landscaping  is  designed  to 
harmonize  with  the  land  around  it.  Its  presence  will  not,  like  that  of  a  rail- 
road, destroy  the  beauty  of  the  land.  It  will  help  maintain  it. 

The  visitor  to  a  great  American  city  in  1960  approaches  it  by  air,  in  order 
to  see  the  layout  of  the  new  design  more  readily.  It  is  a  typical  city.  But  it  is 
not  just  any  city:  this  one,  as  its  towers  begin  to  take  shape  far  away  in  the 
haze,  lies  on  flat  terrain  and  along  one  margin  of  it  there  runs  a  great  river.  In 
1940,  so  the  statistics  say,  it  had  about  one  million  inhabitants.  The  1960 
census  gives  it  nearer  two  million.  As  one  soars  toward  it,  one's  first  air  view 
is  no  longer  that  of  highways  becoming  more  and  more  cluttered.  One  misses 
the  shabby  realty  developments,  the  marginal  farms  whose  streams  are  being 
polluted  by  outlying  factories,  auto  graveyards,  dumps,  and  the  roadside 
shanties  that  used  to  mark  city  approaches. 





**'..  '-• ' «.- 


Futurama  Photo  by  General  Motors 

All  this  f ringeland  is  being  held  back  from  speculators  and  exploiters — held 
back  until  the  day  when  the  city's  further  growth  will  call  for  it.  Land  has 
been  bought  up  for  express  routes  which  will  be  added  to  the  feeders  that  have 
already  been  built  joining  the  city  and  its  surrounding  land ;  and  on  this  skele- 
ton framework  the  future  suburbs  will  grow. 

The  city  makes  no  claim  to  being  ideal.  It  was  not  financially  possible  to 
rebuild  the  city  completely,  scrapping  its  original  layout.  In  the  densest  cen- 


tral  portion,  where  development  and  values  were  at  their  highest,  there  had  to 
be  many  compromises.  It  was  tough  enough  just  to  clear  the  worst  streets 
there.  By  opening  up  the  sections  surrounding  the  center,  by  reclaiming  them 
from  misuse  and  blight,  people  were  drawn  out,  distributing  more  evenly  both 
population  and  traffic. 

Along  the  feeder  roads,  green  strips  of  park  are  laid  down  to  prevent  the 
tendency  of  industry  and  small  business  alike  to  spread  out  along  the  right  of 
way  and  exploit  it.  Sometimes  these  strips  broaden  out  into  whole  areas  de- 
voted to  suburban  parks  and  forests.  Sometimes  they  mark  the  housing  de- 
velopments that  lie  outside  the  commercial  districts  in  areas  into  which  there 
is  no  intrusion.  Parks  have  replaced  the  area  devoted  in  1940  to  the  ugly  chaos 
of  warehousing,  shipping,  and  waterfront.  Now  they  border  this  as  a  self- 
contained  unit,  with  terminals,  railroad  yards,  and  a  nearby  housing  develop- 
ment with  recreational  areas.  They  infiltrate  into  the  older  building  mass  at 
the  city  center.  Smaller  parks  and  recreation  centers  serve  specific  neighbor- 
hoods. In  providing  light  and  air,  they  give  way  to  decentralization.  They  are 
not  smuggled  into  the  city  plan;  they  are  designed  as  integral  parts  of  it. 

The  visitor's  plane  banks  steeply  over  tall  skyscrapers  that  stand  widely 
separated  in  their  gleaming  sheaths  of  glass.  The  air  terminal  is  about  9  miles 
from  the  city's  center;  this  airport  is  interesting,  not  because  it  has  been 
designed  for  1960,  but  because  it  has  been  designed  to  accommodate  all  possi- 
ble needs  which  may  arise  within  the  next  fifty  years  after  that.  Its  entire 
circular  area  is  paved,  making  it  possible  for  planes  to  land  or  take  off  in  any 
direction.  Hangars,  service  buildings,  passenger  facilities  and  buildings  for 
personnel  surround  the  field.  At  its  border  is  a  base  with  all  equipment  neces- 
sary for  the  handling  of  seaplanes. 

No  less  than  the  airplanes,  the  railroads  that  enter  the  city  are  gathered 
together  in  a  way  that  keeps  them  safely  separate  from  the  other  forms  of 



Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison  and  United  Airlines 

transportation.  They  are  brought  underground  to  a  great  union  terminal  near 
the  commercial  center;  then  they  pass  under  the  city  until  at  the  outskirts 
they  emerge  and  are  redistributed  in  a  fan  pattern. 

The  activities  of  the  city's  docks  have  been  coordinated  in  a  similar  central 

Development  of  adequate  transportation  facilities  has  made  such  a  city 
possible — transportation  facilities  which  permit  free  flow  of  traffic  through- 
out all  streets  within  the  city  and,  what  is  more  important,  a  free  flow  of 
traffic  from  within  the  city  proper  to  all  the  surrounding  countryside,  with 
adequate  facilities  to  carry  that  traffic  straight  through  a  motorway  system. 

A  network  of  express  boulevards  has  been  planned  to  provide  uninterrupted 
traffic  flow  between  the  city  and  its  surrounding  suburbs  and  country  f acili- 


ties,  giving  direct  high-speed  rights  of  way  to  the  through  motorways  con- 
necting the  rest  of  the  country. 

Just  as  the  smallest  village  is  linked  to  the  motorway  by  means  of  con- 
venient secondary  roads,  so  the  city  is  linked  to  it  by  means  of  high-speed 
feeders.  These  two-directional  lane-segregated  boulevards  sweep  off  from  the 
motorway  in  great  wide  curves  that  permit  traffic  to  head  for  the  city  at  an 
unreduced  50-mile-an-hour  speed.  Their  number,  width  and  plan  are  de- 
termined by  the  size  of  the  city  and  the  density  of  its  traffic  flow.  The  princi- 
ples remain  the  same  under  all  conditions.  As  the  feeder  leaves  the  motorway, 
its  lanes  are  designed  to  take  care  of  the  calculated  flow  coming  from  that 
direction.  As  more  commuting  traffic  merges  with  the  feeder,  more  lanes  are 
added.  Traffic  between  the  city  proper  and  its  outlying  satellite  sections  moves 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 



Thomas  Airviews 

over  these  feeders,  which  consequently  must  be  flexible  in  design.  As  the  home- 
coming commuting  traffic  leaves  the  boulevards  to  be  distributed  in  the  sur- 
rounding sections,  the  number  of  lanes  decreases  so  that  as  the  feeder  reaches 


Model  for  Shell  Oil  Co.  by  Norman  Bel  Geddes  Photographed   by  Richard   Garrison 


the  motorway,  the  lanes  are  only  sufficient  to  care  for  the  long-distance  traffic. 

Just  before  reaching  the  city  itself,  the  lanes  of  the  feeder  boulevard  fan  out 

and  form  a  tributary  system  that  connects  with  the  express  boulevards  within 







Norman  Bel  Geddes,   I935 

the  city.  In  this  outlying  section  there  are  depots,  parking  spaces  and  transfer 
points.  Here  commuters  may  park  their  cars  and  take  subways  into  the  busi- 
ness section,  or  they  may  transfer  from  their  large  high-powered  rural  cars 
and  drive  on  in  their  small  urban  cars.  Here  long-distance  buses  transfer  their 
passengers  to  small  local  buses.  Large  trucks,  too,  go  no  farther  into  the  city 
than  this.  They  haul  up  at  loading  platforms  and  put  their  products  aboard 
city  trucks  or  on  pneumatic  delivery  tubes. 

Thus  the  motorway  tributary  system  does  away  with  the  usual  bottlenecks 
at  city  approaches  and  hooks  up,  by  high-speed  non-stop  traffic  lanes,  with 
the  city's  boulevard  grid.  However  it  may  be  laid  out,  one  consideration  is 
always  kept  in  mind,  and  that  is  that  the  density  of  traffic  flow  both  to  near 
and  far  points  determines  the  number  of  feeder  lanes  at  any  given  point. 

The  job  does  not  pretend  to  be  complete.  There  are  always  new  things  to 
be  done.  But  it  is  apparent  that  the  city  has  not  been  redesigned  for  any  one 
set  of  interests — either  commercial  or  realty — or  for  the  interests  of  certain 
individuals.  It  has  been  designed  for  communal  use  and  for  the  means  of 
transportation  which  the  community  uses  above  all  others — the  automobile. 




IEW  YORK  STATE  is  more  than  one  hundred  and  fifty  times  as  large  as 
New  York  City.  However,  between  Montauk  Point  at  the  southeastern  tip 
of  the  state,  Lake  Erie  to  the  west  and  the  St.  Lawrence  River  to  the  north, 
one-third  of  all  the  miles  traveled  by  all  the  vehicles  in  the  state  is  traversed 
on  the  streets  of  New  York  City — within  an  area  at  most  3  6  miles  long  and 
less  than  1 7  miles  wide.  Average  motor  speed  in  the  city  is  about  1 5  miles  an 
hour.  In  the  center  of  town,  on  well-regulated  streets,  cars  creep  along  at  less 
than  half  this  "speed" — at  a  bare  6  miles  an  hour. 

There  are,  of  course,  a  great  many  people  in  the  country  who  do  not  live  in 
New  York  City  and  who  make  no  bones  about  saying  they  couldn't  be  paid  to 
live  there.  Many  of  them,  quite  reasonably,  prefer  to  consider  the  traffic  ills  of 
that  metropolis  as  a  localized  evil  which  only  New  Yorkers  need  suffer — for 
their  sins.  However,  it  is  not  possible  for  anybody  to  remain  unaffected  by 
them.  Throughout  the  nation,  in  one  way  or  another,  people  pay  toll  to  traffic 
congestion  in  some  city  where  the  flow  of  traffic  is  similarly  hampered  by 
channels  that  were  not  functionally  designed.  Something  basic  in  America's 

[  223  ] 


system  shows  itself  to  be  out  of  balance. 
Midtown  Manhattan  constitutes  less  than 
i  per  cent  of  the  total  area  of  the  City  of 
New  York,  but  it  has  78  miles  of  roadway 
intersected  by  407  street  and  avenue  cross- 
ings. Into  this  area  of  2  square  miles  every 
day  there  comes  a  steady  influx  of  cars  and 
pedestrians,  hour  by  hour,  until  the  peak  of 
accumulation  is  reached  during  mid-after- 
noon. Then,  after  a  short  period  of  high  tide, 
the  movement  reverses  itself  and  humanity 
ebbs  swiftly  out.  What  this  amounts  to  is  that 
about  24,000  cars  have  moved  in  to  take  up 
the  141  miles  of  curb  space,  while  some  40,- 
000  cars  hourly  try  to  share  the  right  of  way  with  nearly  a  million  pedestrians. 
Result  is  that  sometimes  it  takes  a  quarter  of  an  hour  to  travel  a  single  cross- 
town  block.  Against  this  rate,  the  1 1 l/2  miles  an  hour  which  the  old  horse- 
drawn  carriages  used  to  average  along  Manhattan  streets  is  an  express  speed. 
The  streets  of  this  city,  with  its  more  than  900,000  annually  registered  motor 
vehicles,  are  now  carrying  about  20,000,000  vehicle  miles  daily.  Three- 
quarters  of  the  traffic  load  is  carried  by  one  quarter  of  the  city's  roadway 

New  York  is  a  prize  exhibit  of  almost  everything,  including  sluggishness. 
But  there  are  other  cities  with  the  same  characteristics.  Detroit,  a  city  ded- 
icated to  automotive  progress,  already  confessed  itself  stymied  by  the  time  its 
main  industry  got  into  full  swing.  In  1805  a  master  plan  was  designed  to  take 
care  of  the  city's  future  growth,  but  in  1924  an  official  report  said  that 
"Detroit  is  being  strangled  for  lack  of  sufficient  circulating  facilities  for  its 


people."  Unfortunately,  this  statement  is  as  true  today  as  it  was  then. 
Pittsburgh,  with  its  famous  triangle — formed  by  the  meeting  of  two  rivers 
plus  the  skyrocketing  of  a  half  dozen  industries — also  is  a  trouble  point.  The 
first  street  plan  was  drawn  up  in  1795 — when  the  rivers  were  there,  but  not 
the  industries.  That  street  plan  still  operates.  In  attempts  to  offset  the  increas- 
ing pressure  of  traffic  flow  over  such  inadequate  thoroughfares,  Pittsburgh 
has  tried  and  is  still  trying  many  methods  of  traffic  control.  One-way  streets, 
coordinated  traffic  signals,  the  limited  and  the  restricted  varieties  of  curb 
parking,  street  carloading  platforms  with  and  without  curb  cut-back  for  a 
traffic  by-pass,  prohibited  turning  movements  within  intersections,  no  stop- 
ping during  the  rush  hours,  enlarged  curb  radii  for  easier  turning,  and  so  on 
—in  other  words,  splints,  bandages  and  liniments  applied  to  a  battered  traffic 

Nor  are  St.  Louis,  Los  Angeles  and  Chicago  immune.  They  all  suffer  from 
the  same  thing:  street  layouts  too  inflexible  to  adjust  themselves  to  changing 
conditions  and  growth.  All  three  are  great  department-store  cities.  The  stores 
settled  down  where  the  traffic  was  heaviest,  so  as  to  be  available  to  the  most 
people.  And  then  their  presence  increased  traffic  congestion  in  these  same  areas. 
An  exceptionally  heavy  burden  was  thrown  upon  the  streets  in  the  vicinity 
of  the  stores.  Office  buildings  multiplied.  In  St.  Louis  and  Detroit  office  build- 
ings, the  daily  passenger  traffic  was  estimated  to  be  about  four  visitors  for  each 
worker.  That  meant  still  more  stores  and  accommodations — but  no  change  in 
the  street  plan.  One  suggested  solution  is  to  stagger  the  working  hours  and  so 
ease  the  agonies  of  the  rush  hour.  In  Los  Angeles  a  number  of  large  concerns 
and  government  buildings  have  done  this.  This  measure  acts  as  a  palliative  at 
the  peak  of  the  crisis,  but  it  is  not  a  basic  enough  remedy  to  solve  the  funda- 
mental problems:  concentration  and  congestion.  It  is  not  only  that  the  public 
is  sadly  inconvenienced  by  the  immobile  automobile,  but  the  existence  of  stores 


and  businesses  is  actually  threatened  by  it.  Often,  after  businesses  feel  them- 
selves threatened  by  the  very  congestion  they  have  helped  to  create,  they  find 
they  have  to  move  on.  Industry  is  tending  to  move  toward  the  limits  of  large 
cities  not  only  to  escape  taxes,  but  perhaps  even  more  directly  to  escape  the 
cost  of  traffic  congestion. 

In  New  York  City  from  the  Battery  to  Houston  Street  and  the  upper  limits 
of  a  quaint  wilderness  known  as  Greenwich  Village,  streets  meander  now 

Underwood  &  Underwood 

where  cows  meandered  before.  North  of  a  somewhat  indeterminable  line 
bounding  the  "Village,"  near  14th  Street,  the  city  is  laid  out  on  a  gridiron 
pattern  of  rectangular  blocks.  Horse-cars,  steam  locomotives,  electric  street 
cars  and  buses  in  turn  have  plied  these  streets.  Elevated  structures  have  been 
swung  above  them,  and  subways — sometimes  in  two  or  three  tiers — have  been 
dug  under  them.  But  in  all  this  time  the  basic  pattern  has  not  changed.  It  has 
only  been  touched  up  in  details. 


United  Stat«  Army  Air  Corp 

All  over  the  United  States  the  problem  has 
been  the  same.  It  has  varied  only  in  degree. 

One  American  city,  however,  did  not  de- 
velop haphazardly,  but  was  laid  out  according 
to  a  definite,  comprehensive,  unified  plan.  Al- 
most a  century  and  a  half  ago,  Pierre  Charles 
L 'Enfant  was  commissioned  by  George  Wash- 
ington to  prepare  plans  for  the  new  capital 
city  which  Congress  had  authorized  on  the 
banks  of  the  Potomac.  L'Enf  ant  possessed  un- 
bounded idealism  and  vision.  His  street  layout 
consisted  of  east- west  streets  and  north-south 
streets  upon  which  a  criss-cross  of  diagonal 
avenues  was  superimposed.  He  could  not  fore-  DANGER  LIES  WHERE  PATHS  CROSS 
see  that  the  squares  and  circles  created  by  this  mosaic  of  oblique  avenues  would 
finally  become  at  once  incommodious,  useless  and  disagreeable.  When  the  au- 
tomobile came,  these  squares  and  circles  looked  less  and  less  monumental,  and 
became  more  and  more  hazardous,  until  today  these  intersections  have  become 
one  of  Washington's  greatest  traffic  problems.  The  elegant  Dupont  Circle,  for 
example,  has  become  a  traffic  nightmare.  Nine  thoroughfares  feed  directly 
into  it.  Today  the  District  government  is  being  forced  to  build  overpasses  and 
underpasses  to  try  to  break  up  such  trouble  centers. 

Almost  every  city  has  its  Greenwich  Village  and  its  Dupont  Circle.  It  is 
likely  also  to  have  its  "Master  Plan,"  by  which  an  expanding  scheme  of  rectan- 
gular blocks  has  supposedly  been  laid  out  to  last  for  all  time  to  come.  And  it 
also  has  its  Traffic  Problem.  This  adds  up  to  one  thing:  the  city  and  its  traffic 
have  become  rival  elements.  When  the  tremendous  concentration  of  motor 
cars  first  flooded  the  streets,  it  already  seemed  too  late  to  rearrange  the  city  to 


accord  with  the  traffic.  So  instead  of  that,  an  attempt  was  made  to  rearrange 
the  traffic  to  accord  with  the  city.  The  result  was  stalemate. 

Minor  rearrangements  were  made  in  the  city  system,  of  course.  But  such 
alterations  were  incidental,  the  product  of  immediate  needs;  they  were  not 
products  of  a  general  long-range  foresighted  plan.  Cities  have  laid  down  car 
tracks  only  to  have  to  tear  them  up  later;  they  have  built  elevated  structures 
and  then  pulled  them  down,  tried  one  kind  of  traffic  routing  and  then  another. 
These  rearrangements  fall  into  two  categories:  first,  traffic  control,  and  second, 
street  modernization.  In  order  to  see  where  they  differ  from  real  planning  and 
where  they  approach  it,  the  types  must  be  looked  at  in  detail. 

Traffic  control  by  means  of  speed  laws  and  stop-lights  is  wholly  restrictive 
in  nature.  City  traffic  is  regulated  by  "speed"  laws  to  the  point  where  it  barely 
moves  at  all.  However,  it  would  not  be  fair  to  say  that  all  this  control  has  done 
is  to  slow  down  traffic.  If  all  the  laws  were  repealed  traffic  still  wouldn't  be 
speeded  up.  Perhaps  the  laws  have  not  aggravated  the  problem,  but  they  cer- 
tainly haven't  succeeded  in  solving  it.  A  newspaper  report  from  Philadelphia, 
under  the  headline  "Philadelphia  Tries  to  Ease  Congestion,"  says,  "Continued 
efforts  to  reduce  traffic  accidents  in  this  city  through  safety  drives  and  traffic 
signal  installations  have  resulted  so  far  this  year  [1938]  in  a  decrease  of  about 
10  per  cent  in  accidents  and  personal  injuries."  But  this  increase  in  safety  has 
been  achieved  at  the  expense  of  speed  and  comfort. 

Most  current  types  of  traffic  control  have  an  almost  sardonic  way  of  defeat- 
ing their  own  purpose.  Take  the  efforts  to  provide  adequate  parking  space 
without  adding  to  congestion.  This  problem  is  usually  "solved"  by  restricting 
and  prohibiting  parking  in  the  city  and  is  carried  out  to  such  an  extent  that 
it  is  often  impossible  for  a  driver  to  get  anywhere  near  his  destination.  The 
common  ordinance  which  permits  parking  only  for  one-hour  periods  defeats 
itself  because  it  would  require  more  than  the  total  existing  police  force  of  the 

[  228  ] 

city  to  enforce  it.  Recently  a  bold  step  for- 
ward was  taken  in  midtown  New  York.  Cer- 
tain crosstown  streets  were  rid  of  parking 
entirely  and  then  given  the  grand-sounding 
title  of  "express  streets."  But  heavy  trucks 
still  lumber  along  them  and  back  up  in  front 
of  the  doors  at  which  they  have  business.  Re- 
sult: for  the  one  disadvantage  which  these 
streets  used  to  have — congested  traffic — there 
are  now  two  disadvantages — congested  traffic 
and  lack  of  parking  facilities. 

Other  parking  solutions  are  even  more 
paradoxical.  The  city  of  Toledo  suffered  from 
the  malignant  tumor  called  "double  park- 
ing." One  would  think  that  the  cure  for  this 
ill  would  have  been  to  enforce  the  laws  against 
double  parking.  Instead,  a  local  specialist  de- 
cided that  on  one  side  of  the  busy  streets 
parking  should  be  forbidden  altogether.  After 
this  was  done,  the  drivers  who  had  formerly 
double  parked  illegally  now  resorted  to  park- 
ing, no  less  illegally,  right  next  to  the  forbid- 
den curb.  But  authorities  who  felt  the  city's 
pulse  claimed  that  the  patient  was  improving, 
because  now  there  was  only  one  line  of  illegally 
parked  cars  instead  of  two.  Another  solution 
is  angle  parking,  which  increases  the  curb's 
parking  capacity.  But  aerial  surveys  of  streets 


in  Boston  showed  that  when  allowed  on  average-width  thoroughfares,  angle 
parking  greatly  hinders  the  traffic  flow.  There  is  also  the  parking  meter,  which 
was  first  introduced  in  Oklahoma  City.  These  meters,  now  in  use  in  ninety 
cities,  bring  between  three  and  four  million  dollars  annually  into  the  munic- 
ipal treasuries.  They  are  a  tax.  But  they  are  not  a  solution  to  congestion. 

There  is  one  method,  however,  which  does  point  the  way  to  a  future  solu- 
tion. It  is  the  construction  of  parking  space  directly  underneath  or  actually 
inside  of  heavily  frequented  buildings.  The  newest  building  unit  in  New 
York's  Rockefeller  Center,  for  example,  is  provided  with  six  floors  in  which 
over  800  cars  can  find  parking  space  by  means  of  ramps.  The  same  idea  has 
been  incorporated,  even  more  dramatically,  into  Chicago's  Pure  Oil  Building, 
in  which  the  interior  spaces  of  thirteen  floors  are  reserved  for  tenants'  cars — 
300  of  them. 

The  objective  is  to  free  the  streets  of  clogged  cars.  Cities  must  plan  and 
build  for  the  future  in  such  a  way  that  parking  will  no  longer  be  a  problem. 
Years  ago  it  was  possible  to  build  under  the  whole  length  of  Manhattan  a  rail- 
way system  with  great  skyscrapers  standing  on  top  of  it.  Would  it  then  be  any 
less  possible  simply  to  build  garages  under  buildings?  The  whole  picture  of 
urban  congestion  would  be  changed  if  apartment  houses  as  well  as  great  office 
structures  provided  underground  space,  first  to  accommodate  tenants'  cars, 
and  second,  to  make  it  possible  for  trucks  to  load  and  unload  off  the  street 
within  the  building  line.  Given  off-street  parking  space,  transportation  cannot 
but  become  quicker  and  more  flexible.  If  maximum  flow  of  traffic  is  to  be 
attained,  an  adequate  highway  is  no  more  important  than  an  adequate  motor 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

P  E  V  L  E  R      CENTER 

TftUCit     INTftANCI  41    Wi-ST     SO     ST 






/    / 

•*""""*-'  terminal.  It  may  well  be  that 

the  next  great  building  job  for 
the  American  city  will  be  to 
provide  these  terminals. 

In  addition  to  parking  re- 
strictions and  regulations  to 
relieve  traffic  congestion  on 
the  city  streets,  the  widening 
of  city  streets  to  increase  their 
capacity  has  been  tried.  In 
1908  the  sidewalks  of  the  then 
dominant  section  of  New 
York's  Fifth  Avenue  ( 2  5  th  to 
47th  Streets)  were  slashed  to 
I  make  it  possible  to  widen  the 
street  from  40  to  45  feet.  The 
upper  section  later  followed 
suit.  It  was  a  good  solution  at 
the  time,  and  opened  up  the 
avenue  to  the  great  stores  and 
buildings  that  crowd  it  today; 

CITY  PARKING  WITHIN  THE  BLOCK  but  it  led  to  a  dead  end.  Today 

Fifth  Avenue  is  twice  as  congested  as  it  was  in  1908,  and  there  is  no  more 
room  for  widening.  The  saturation  point  has  been  passed. 

All  over  the  country,  main  thoroughfares  copied  Fifth  Avenue's  example. 
But  in  so  doing  they  also  copied  Fifth  Avenue's  later  history:  a  saturation 
point  was  reached,  while  on  the  other  hand  the  automobile  factories  had  not 
come  near  reaching  their  apex  of  production.  City  authorities,  trying  to  ac- 


I       I 

/      / 

N.  Y.  C.  Bureau  of  Borough  Works 


commodate  traffic  where  no  accommodations  exist,  have  next  resorted  to  the 
one-way  street.  The  one-way  express  street  is  an  extension  of  this  ancient  idea. 
After  that  the  next  step  is  the  express  highway  through  or  around  congested 
districts — such  as  Chicago's  Outer  Drive  and  New  York's  West  Side  Elevated 
Highway  and  East  River  Drive. 

These  innovations  give  hints  of  what  could  be  done  in  the  future.  Already 
several  city  authorities  have  gone  on  from  the  stage  of  finding  individual  solu- 
tions to  individual  street  problems  to  the  stage  of  drawing  up  an  over-all 
project  to  relieve  an  entire  city.  An  idea  brought  forth  for  crowded  Los 
Angeles  is  nothing  less  than  a  network  of  motorways  whose  segregated  lanes 
will  be  reached  by  ramps  and  which  will  bridge  every  intersection.  In  busi- 
ness districts  a  100-foot  right  of  way  is  to  be  acquired.  On  that  a  special 
structure  is  to  be  erected.  The  first  and  second  floors  of  this  building  are  to 
be  devoted  to  retail  business;  the  third  to  the  motor  road;  the  fourth  and  fifth 
to  parking  space;  and  the  floors  above  to  offices.  The  author  of  this  plan  is  the 
Engineering  Department  of  the  Automobile  Club  of  Southern  California. 
And  the  purpose  of  the  proposal  is  prosaically  stated:  "to  increase  property 
values  and  raise  the  efficiency  of  the  automobile  to  close  to  its  rated  capacity." 

Another  plan,  devised  by  Ernest  Flagg  in  1927,  divided  traffic  into  three 
categories:  pedestrians,  fast  vehicles  and  slow  vehicles.  It  proposed  the  build- 
ing of  elevated  automobile  runways  providing  a  special  right  of  way  for 
rapidly  moving  vehicular  traffic.  Under  these  runways  parking  space  would 
be  available  for  standing  traffic.  All  present  sidewalks  would  be  narrowed  and 
new  ones  would  be  created  at  the  present  third-story  level  of  the  buildings. 
The  buildings  themselves  would  be  set  back  25  feet  from  the  street  at  the 
third  story,  thus  giving  more  light  to  the  buildings  and  street.  Mr.  Flagg 
realized  that  an  entire  city  could  not  be  rebuilt  in  this  way,  but  he  asserted 
that  every  new  building  could  be  designed  so  as  to  permit  the  ultimate  accom- 


Futurama  Photo  by  General  Motors 



plishment  of  his  plan  on  an  extensive  scale  throughout  most  of  the  city. 

The  essence  of  both  plans  is  simply  that  the  various  categories  or  directions 
of  traffic  should  be  segregated.  Traffic  coming  in  opposite  directions  must  be 
completely  separated.  Express  highways  must  be  built  through  congested 
centers  to  completely  separate  through  traffic  from  slow  local  traffic.  Pedes- 
trians and  cars  must  be  kept  apart — really  apart.  It  isn't  enough  that  the 
pedestrian  be  separated  by  the  mere  height  of  a  curbstone  from  the  cars  which 
he  impedes  and  which  menace  him.  He  must  be  put  out  of  harm's  reach.  The 
pedestrian  must  be  made  into  an  efficient  transportation  unit  too. 

So  far,  the  pedestrian- versus-automobile  conflict  has  been  "solved,"  not  by 
making  things  better  for  both  types  of  traffic  or  even  for  one  at  the  expense  of 
the  other,  but  by  making  both  groups  take  turns  being  delayed  at  street  cor- 
ners. The  inevitable  result  is  that  neither  is  satisfied,  and  a  growing  antagonism 
has  developed  between  them.  It  can  only  be  corrected  by  having  the  pedestrian 
walk  on  a  separate  level  all  his  own. 

To  sum  up:  daily  experience  is  showing  the  American  people  that  motor 
traffic  has  bogged  down;  that  traffic  "control"  has  meant  well  but  solved  noth- 
ing; that  "improvement"  and  "modernization"  are  fine  sounding  words,  but 



mean  less  and  less  as  the  facts  of  traffic  crowd  them.  There  is  not  much  chance 
left  for  tinkering.  The  plain  fact  is  that  there  is  simply  not  enough  room  in 
cities,  under  present  conditions,  to  accommodate  the  traffic. 

One  answer,  and  the  simplest  one,  is  that  there  are  too  many  cars.  Perhaps 
there  is  no  need  for  private  cars  to  come  within  certain  congested  areas  of  a 
city.  Many  passenger  cars  driving  in  a  city  come  from  suburbs,  and  it  would 
be  more  practical  for  these  people  to  come  in  on  a  subway  system.  Provision  of 
clean,  comfortable  subways  in  which  anyone  is  willing  to  ride  would  help 
cure  this  situation.  Underground  transportation  should  be  made  just  as  pleas- 
ant as  travel  in  the  present-day  air-conditioned  trains,  and  it  could  get  people 
into  the  heart  of  town  much  faster  and  more  economically  than  they  could 
drive  themselves. 

The  urban  motor  car  will  undergo  radical  changes  in  the  future.  Private 
cars  will  form  a  smaller  part  of  city  traffic  in  proportion  to  the  large  number 
of  smaller,  cheaper  taxis.  The  wheel  base  of  all  city  automobiles  will  be  re- 


Futurama   Photo  by  Richard   Garrison 


duced.  Thus  they  will  be  easier  to  maneuver  in  traffic.  Buses  will  be  smaller 
and  faster.  These  conveniences  all  combined  will  make  it  unnecessary  for  the 
1960  New  Yorker  to  bring  his  high-speed  rural  car  into  the  heart  of  town. 

In  the  preceding  chapter,  the  American  city  of  1960  was  looked  at  from 
the  air.  That  first  reconnaissance  flight  showed  the  feeders  which  served  the 
city  and  the  approaches  which  insured  its  future  growth;  it  revealed  certain 
broad  divisions  which  broke  the  city  down  into  the  separate  functions — living 
as  against  working,  manufacturing  as  against  moving,  and  so  on — and  it  gave 
hints  of  the  great  rebuilding  that  had  been  going  on.  Additional  details  are 
uncovered  when  one  comes  down  closer  to  view  the  great  city.  The  observer 
is  aware  that  as  this  grand  plan  is  being  worked  out,  many  aims  are  being 
realized.  But  for  the  time  being  there  is  just  one  detailed  aim  which  interests 
the  observer.  It  is  this:  to  see  traffic  in  the  city  of  1960  sped  up  by  just  about 
100  per  cent. 

The  greatest  blight  area  of  the  1940  city 
occurred  along  its  unstudied  fringes.  The 
greatest  crowding  occurred  at  the  over-de- 
veloped center.  In  1960  both  sections  have 
been  entirely  replanned  together — the  first 
built  up,  and  the  second  built  down.  Upon 
both  there  has  been  imposed  a  unified  grid 
system  of  city  blocks.  The  width  of  streets 
from  building  line  to  building  line  has  not 
itself  been  altered ;  but  the  most  apparent  big 
change  is  that  each  500-by-250-foot  block  is 
a  complete  unit  in  itself. 

The  majority  of  these  blocks  are  made  up 
of  low  five-storied  structures.  About  every 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


tenth  block  consists  of  one  huge  skyscraper — a  steel  and  glass  shaft  reaching 
high  into  the  air,  set  back  with  gardened  terraces  and  separated  from  the  next 
great  tower  by  at  least  two  blocks  of  large  green  park,  a  shaft  which  is  built 
around  a  service  and  elevator  core  so  that  every  rentable  space  has  the  maximum 
of  light  and  air.  Buildings  are  restricted  to  seven  different  heights.  Adjacent  to 


the  buildings  are  recreational  and  rest  facilities,  annexes  to  the  great  sky- 
scrapers. Some  lower  buildings  cover  only  part  of  the  block,  leaving  the  re- 
mainder to  be  landscaped.  Parks  cover  one-third  of  the  total  land  area,  taking 
up  entire  blocks  and  groups  of  blocks. 

Looking  at  the  streets  themselves,  there  is  revealed  at  once  the  main  prin- 
ciple under  which  they  operate.  Pedestrians  and  automobiles  are  kept  entirely 
apart.  The  crowds  of  shoppers  are  walking  on  sidewalks  located  at  the  second- 
story  height  of  all  buildings.  At  intersections,  they  bridge  the  streets.  Store 
display  windows  are  on  two  levels:  sidewalk  and  street.  The  windows  on  the 
upper  level  are  designed  to  attract  the  strolling  window-shopping  pedestrian, 
while  those  on  the  lower  level  are  of  a  broader,  more  spectacular  type,  designed 
to  catch  the  eye  of  the  motorist  driving  by.  Upper  building  entrances  make  it 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

unnecessary  for  the  walker  ever  to  shift  to  the  lower  level  except  when  he 
wants  to  get  his  car  or  jump  on  a  bus.  Then  ramps  and  escalators  take  him 

This  lower  motor  level  is  no  wider  than  was  the  1940  street  together  with 
its  sidewalk;  but  its  traffic  capacity  is  double  that  of  the  1940  street.  In  the 
first  place,  its  traffic  lanes  extend  from  building  line  to  building  line,  not  from 
curb  to  curb.  Secondly,  parking  is  done  not  in  front  of  the  buildings,  but  only 
within  them.  Third,  room  for  turning  into  traffic  as  well  as  for  loading  and 
unloading  is  provided  entirely  within  the  buildings.  None  of  the  functions  of 
the  building  encroaches  upon  the  thoroughfare.  The  whole  street  level  of  the 
building  has  been  cleared  and  opened  up  to  become  a  terminal  for  automobile 
traffic,  providing  delivery  and  parking  facilities  for  all  requirements  of  the 
building  without  impeding  the  outside  street  traffic,  as  well  as  providing 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


elevators  to  the  various  car  parking  levels,  waiting  rooms  for  passengers,  es- 
calators to  the  sidewalk  levels,  and  the  like. 

The  streets  themselves  are  all  one  way  and  of  only  two  widths — 100  feet 
and  8  0  feet.  Their  regulation  speed  is  3  0  miles  an  hour.  Where  several  blocks 
are  joined  to  form  a  park  at  street  level,  the  streets  ramp  under  them  so 
that  there  are  no  breaks  in  the  flow  of  traffic.  This  city  grid  is  again  crossed, 
at  intervals  of  ten  blocks  each  way,  by  a  grid  of  express  boulevards.  They  are 
one  way  also  and  are  100  feet  wide,  but  since  they  are  designed  to  ramp  alter- 
nately above  and  below  the  cross-streets  in  a  basket-weave  pattern,  they  per- 
mit an  uninterrupted,  sustained  speed  of  5  0  miles  an  hour  right  through  the 
heart  of  the  city.  Their  turns  at  intersections  are  built  along  the  lines  of  the 
motorway — the  principle  being  always  to  maintain  uniform  speed  and  never 
impede  the  flow.  They  are  reached  by  parallel  feeder  streets  from  which  ramps 

[  243  ] 

lead  up  to  them  as  the  cars  accelerate  from  30-mile  local  street  speed  to 
50 -mile  express  boulevard  speed. 

In  1940,  street  speed  in  the  great  city  averaged  about  15  miles  an  hour. 
Boulevard  speed  averaged  about  25  miles.  By  1960  both  speeds  have  been 
exactly  doubled.  This  doubling  will  involve  a  vast  original  building  cost. 
But,  as  Robert  Duffus  says,  "It  is  the  absence  of  a  plan,  not  the  existence  of 
one,  for  which  a  city  or  region  should  feel  apologetic  on  purely  financial 
grounds.  The  cost  of  doing  only  what  is  necessary  to  enable  a  city  to  function 
efficiently,  once  it  has  fallen  behind  in  meeting  the  needs  of  the  inhabitants, 
would  probably  stagger  us  if  we  could  correctly  estimate  it.  ...  The  sound 
city  plan  is  first  sound  economically.  It  recognizes  that  a  city  cannot  continue 
to  exist  as  a  civilized  entity  unless  it  earns  social  and  economic  dividends  for  its 
inhabitants."  If  we  don't  plan  today,  we  shall  pay  tomorrow. 

We  face  an  inescapable  choice  between  planning  and  chaos.  Our  sprawling, 
tangled  cities  must  be  transformed.  Our  city  streets  must  be  redesigned.  Just 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

as  it  is  time  for  us  to  start  replacing  the  forests  which  we  have  over-cut,  it  is 
time  for  us  to  let  light  and  air  into  the  cities  which  we  have  over-built.  The 
cost  will  be  great,  although  engineering  studies  made  for  the  city  of  Chicago 
have  proved  that  elevated  highways  can  be  designed  at  a  cost  much  lower 
than  that  of  street- widening  projects.  It  is  impossible  to  speed  up  city  traffic 
by  one  hundred  per  cent,  at  this  stage  of  the  game,  on  a  pittance.  Twenty 
years  ago  the  cost  would  have  been  much  less;  twenty  years  from  now  the 
cost  will  be  much  greater.  But  the  cost  of  failure  to  do  so  will  be  greater  still. 
No  city  can  afford  the  stagnation  toward  which  many  are  heading. 

Hope  for  the  future  lies  in  our  determination  to  rebuild  and  redesign  our 
cities  to  prevent  the  evils  which  have  accumulated  as  a  consequence  of  lack 
of  planning.  The  success  of  the  design,  physical  structure  and  economy  of  our 
future  cities  will  depend  on  the  enterprise  and  vision  which  we  show  today. 



I  OR1 

I  ORWARD-LOOKING  highway  planning  affects  every  person  in  the  country, 
whether  he  drives  a  car  or  not.  It  reaches  into  every  section  of  the  country: 
rural  regions,  towns,  suburbs  and  cities.  Without  good  highways,  these  sec- 
tions become  unhealthily  isolated  and  ingrown. 

As  far  back  as  1807  Albert  Gallatin  declared  that  in  order  "to  unite  by 
intimate  community  of  interest  the  most  remote  quarters  of  the  United  States" 
what  was  needed  was  fast  and  easy  communication  throughout  the  country. 
As  a  safe  and  sound  Secretary  of  the  Treasury,  Mr.  Gallatin  was  no  wild-eyed 
visionary.  What  he  spoke  was  good  common  sense,  as  true  today  as  it  was 
then.  His  proposal  was  simply  that  money  received  by  the  Federal  government 
from  the  sale  of  public  land  be  used  to  finance  the  construction  of  highways 
and  canals.  That,  however,  did  not  sound  like  common  sense  to  the  people  of 
1807.  It  sounded  like  a  violation  of  the  Constitution.  The  cautious  Jefferson  - 
ians  in  power  could  never  repeat  often  enough  the  clause  which  reserved  to 
the  several  states  all  powers  not  specifically  granted  to  the  Federal  govern- 
ment. They  interpreted  the  founding  document  "strictly."  As  a  result,  the 


Federal  government  was  prevented  from  making  direct  improvements  within 
state  borders — save  for  the  purposes  of  navigation  in  harbors,  coastal  waters, 
and  the  Great  Lakes.  Mr.  Gallatin's  plan  went  on  the  shelf. 

A  century  later  there  was  another  man  in  high  office  who  was  given  to 
thinking  in  large  terms  about  the  needs  of  the  nation.  Theodore  Roosevelt,  by 
no  means  a  "strict  construe tionist,"  dug  a  canal.  For  that  he  was  regarded  as 
dangerously  rash — almost  a  public  peril.  All  he  had  really  decided  was  that 
Atlantic  and  Pacific  shipping  needed  to  be  linked,  and  that  the  Federal  govern- 
ment was  manifestly  the  only  agency  that  could  do  it.  He  also  decided  that 
since  the  Federal  government  was  putting  up  the  money,  it  should  control  its 
investment  and  run  the  show. 

Suppose  that  Theodore  Roosevelt,  inspired  as  he  was  by  conceptions  of  a 
national  destiny,  had  applied  the  Panama  Canal  type  of  thinking  to  the  Amer- 
ican land  itself,  and  declared  that  a  system  of  direct  highways  was  needed,  no 
less  than  a  waterway,  to  "unite  by  intimate  community  of  interest  the  most 
remote  quarters  of  the  United  States."  There  would  have  been  strenuous  op- 
position, but  Roosevelts  thrive  on  opposition.  And  the  idea  might  have  pene- 
trated to  the  American  people  that  all  they  had  done  so  far  in  the  way  of  road 
building  was  to  lay  out  a  patchwork  crazy  quilt  entirely  without  design.  They 
might  have  learned  right  then  that  roads  could  be  planned  as  one  great  system, 
and  that  such  a  system  could  have  the  effect  of  developing  the  country  in  line 
with  its  natural  resources.  The  results  today  would  be  of  incalculable  value. 
The  nation's  roads  today  would  be  a  very  great  national  asset.  The  advantages 
of  the  new  automobile  could  have  been  set  to  immediate  use. 

But  right  there  was  the  hitch.  The  automobile  was  still  new.  Not  even 
Theodore  Roosevelt  had  any  idea  of  the  possibilities  of  the  motor  car  and  of  its 
coming  significance  to  civilization.  So  money  for  road  construction  went  on 
being  spent  the  same  old  way. 




|        Since  Theodore  Roosevelt  left  office,  over  a  half  million  miles  of 


£  highways  have  been  built  in  the  United  States.  In  his  day,  only 
7  per  cent  of  the  existing  roads  were  surfaced  with  anything  bet- 
ter than  gravel.  Even  today  there  are  only  about  25  per  cent 
which  have  hard  surfaces.  It  is  interesting  to  reflect  that  if  all  the 
mileage  that  has  been  laid  down  and  all  the  money  that  has  been 
spent  on  roads,  since  the  first  Roosevelt's  day  to  that  of  the  second, 
had  been  laid  down  and  spent  on  the  basis  of  a  plan,  this  would  be 
a  vastly  different  country  today.  But  although  more  than  thirty 
years  have  elapsed,  there  is  still  no  plan  for  a  national  highway 
system.  Roads  are  still  not  laid  down  in  sparsely  populated  sec- 
tions in  order  to  "unite  remote  quarters."  In  1940,  roads  are  laid 
down  primarily  between  large  centers.  When  "highway  improve- 
ment" is  undertaken,  the  usual  procedure  is  to  examine  certain 
stretches  where  there  are  already  many  people,  many  roads  and 
heavy  traffic,  and  then  to  build  more  roads  there  to  facilitate  that 
traffic.  This  only  results  in  encouraging  still  more  traffic  between 
these  already  heavily  traveled  and  densely  populated  centers;  and 
the  final  spin  of  the  vicious  circle  leads  from  concentration  of 
population  and  traffic  into  over-concentration. 

At  the  same  time  there  are  vast  sections  in  the  United  States 
which  remain  underpopulated,  isolated  and  under-developed.  This 
unexploited  territory  is  often  valuable,  potentially  very  useful.  It 
includes  some  of  our  most  beautiful  land.  But  it  is  just  out  of  the 
way.  Roads  can  be  built  to  correct  this  situation.  But,  to  put  it 
simply,  as  road  builders  we  Americans  have  failed  to  see  the  rela- 
tion that  exists  between  the  transportation  facilities  we  are  build- 
ing and  the  population  trends  and  economic  changes  that  may  re- 


suit  from  them.  We  have  failed  to  regard  roads  functionally,  creatively. 

The  railroads  did  not  stop  at  serving  already-established  population  east  of 
the  Mississippi.  They  took  the  population  out  beyond  the  Mississippi.  They 
knew  that  corn  and  grass  lands  were  waiting  there,  that  all  that  was  needed 
was  good  men  to  farm  them.  They  knew  that  if  men  were  taken  out  there, 
they  would  soon  create  produce,  and  that  the  railroads  would  prosper  by 
carrying  that  produce  eastward.  Therefore  the  railroad  sent  its  rails  out  ahead 
of  the  population.  But  highways  have  always  followed  the  population. 

Today  America  has  left  the  stage  where  hasty  road  building  in  the  wake  of 
an  increasing  population  is  necessary.  Does  not  that  also  mean  that  the  high- 
way should  leave  the  stage  where  it  is  merely  passive?  Highways  can  be  made 
to  serve  a  creative  function.  Because  of  the  fact  that  in  some  sections  of  the 
country  there  is  great  overcrowding  while  in  others  there  is  great  open  space, 
new  shifts  in  population  are  highly  desirable.  It  is  possible  today  to  lay  down 
roads  in  advance  of  this  population  movement,  and  so  take  a  hand  in  deter- 
mining it. 

A  traffic-flow  diagram  indicates  the  proportionate  extent  to  which  high- 
ways are  used  by  the  varying  width  of  its  lines.  On  a  national  traffic-flow  map, 
the  Eastern  part  of  the  country  is  covered  with  wide  lines,  showing  that  there 
are  many  roads  carrying  heavy  traffic.  Here,  therefore,  the  major  problem 
confronting  highway  planners  is  to  relieve  congestion  of  population  and 
traffic.  West  of  the  Mississippi  the  lines  are  few  and  thin,  meaning  that  roads 

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are  proportionately  few  and  the  traffic  light.  Here,  therefore,  the  problem  is 
to  develop  the  land.  The  Western  area  of  the  United  States  is  by  no  means  un- 
favorable to  life.  It  is  studded  with  health  and  pleasure  resorts.  Its  scenic 
attractions  are  exceptional.  Water  for  agriculture  is  becoming  increasingly 
available  as  a  result  of  dam  construction  and  water  control.  Irrigation  is  more 
dependable  than  rainfall.  America's  greatest  potential  hydro-electric  power 
reserves  remain  to  be  harnessed  in  the  West;  its  largest  forest  reserves  are  also 
there;  the  natural  wealth  is  immense. 

The  United  States  has  not  reached  the  point,  already  passed  by  many 
nations,  at  which  the  total  population  becomes  static.  In  the  past  twenty 
years  its  population  has  increased  by  more  than  20,000,000.  By  1960  it  is 
estimated  that  the  total  population  will  have  increased  by  another  15, 000, 000. 




Concentration  is  also  increasing.  The  great  cities 
are  growing  greater.  Greater  New  York,  which  to- 
day has  more  than  13,000,000  inhabitants,  will 
have,  it  is  estimated,  16,000,000  by  1960.  Along 
with  this  increase  in  growth  is  coming  an  increase 
in  movement.  People  move  about  more  freely  than 
ever  before.  Motor  traffic  is  expected  to  double  in 
the  next  twenty  years.  The  radius  of  traffic  is  also 
growing.  In  the  East  congestion  is  rapidly  growing 
to  the  saturation  point.  To  break  up  that  congestion 
it  is  necessary  to  open  up  new  ways  out,  to  decen- 
tralize, to  redistribute,  to  create  breathing-space — 
that  is  the  coming  need.  It  is  a  need  that  can  be  met 
first  of  all  by  a  national  highway  policy. 

Over  and  beyond  the  inefficiency  and  obsoles- 
cence of  highways,  there  are  other  factors  which 

DERIVED   FROM   STUDY  BY  U.  S.   BUREAU        t      «  ,  ,     c 

OF  PUBLIC  ROADS  OF  AVERAGE  DAILY      nolcl  UP  tne  movement  toward  tree  national  dis- 

TRAFFIC  VOLUME  .,         .  ,     .  -11  i  n- 

tnbution.  Une  or  these  is  local  or  sectional  conflict 
— more  exactly,  the  short-sighted  rivalries  between 
certain  states.  These  hurdles  have  been  placed  di- 
rectly in  the  path  of  a  vital  and  growing  American  industry — trucking.  They 
damage  not  only  this  specific  industry,  but  all  aspects  of  national  distribution. 
Lack  of  cooperation  between  the  different  states,  and  worse,  active  an- 
tagonism between  them,  threaten  to  stifle  interstate  commerce. 

Sixty  per  cent  of  all  automobile  traffic  is  for  business  purposes,  according 
to  the  official  road  publication  of  the  Federal  government.  In  many  sections  of 
the  country  this  is  held  up  by  all  sorts  of  petty,  conflicting  state  restrictions. 
Each  state  has  enacted  its  own  codes  governing  the  permissible  sizes  and 



weights  of  vehicles.  Different  states  have  piled  up  a  host  of  restrictions:  Iowa 
requires  trucks  to  show  three  green  clearance  lights ;  the  neighboring  Missouri 
requires  trucks  to  use  no  clearance  lights.  Such  technicalities,  costly  to  opera- 
tors, bewildering  to  drivers,  have  in  many  cases  been  put  on  the  statute  books 
through  pressure  brought  by  other  transportation  agencies.  They  create  bar- 
riers at  state  borders.  A  dozen  state  lines  have  "ports  of  entry"  similar  to 
national  customs  offices.  Only  the  extra  imposition  of  state  import  duties  is 
needed  to  make  of  the  entire  country  a  jumble  of  forty-eight  separate  sover- 
eign countries  as  far  as  highway  transport  is  concerned. 

The  Constitution  of  course  prohibits  the  levying  of  any  such  duties.  But 
in  certain  cases  what  might  be  called  "border  wars"  literally  paralyze  high- 
way commerce.  In  1932,  for  example,  an  Indiana  State  officer  said:  "We  find 
something  wrong  with  almost  every  Kentucky  truck  and  are  arresting  almost 
100  per  cent  of  the  Kentucky  truck  drivers." 

These  restrictions  are  as  costly  as  they  are  silly.  The  Federal  government 
contributes  funds  liberally  for  the  construction  and  maintenance  of  highways. 
Therefore  it  has  an  interest  in  the  whole  national  highway  system.  Over  and 
beyond  that,  it  has  a  responsibility  toward  national  defense,  and  the  further- 
ance of  interstate  commerce.  Should  state  barriers  across  these  roads  be  allowed 
to  interrupt  this  interstate  commerce? 

Many  persons  and  groups  have  asked  that  the  Federal  government  boldly 
take  a  more  direct  part  in  highway  building,  in  order  to  increase  national  dis- 
tribution. National  organizations  such  as  the  American  Automobile  Associa- 
tion, the  Highway  Research  Board  of  the  National  Research  Council  and  the 
American  Road  Builders  Association,  have  carried  on  studies  and  research.  A 
great  deal  of  this  work,  though,  has  only  scratched  the  surface  and  has  not 
come  down  to  the  fundamental  question  of  deciding  what  should  be  the  basis 
of  a  national  system.  That  the  frame  of  mind  of  the  nation  today  is  sym- 



FROM   "LIFE,"    1907 

pathetic  to  some  such  sys- 
tem is  proved  by  the  fact 
that  besides  the  highway 
plan  proposed  last  year  by 
the  Chief  of  the  United 
States  Bureau  of  Public 
Roads,  two  bills  provid- 
ing for  such  plans  have 
been  introduced  into  re- 
cent sessions  of  Congress. 

Under  the  Bulkley  Bill, 
introduced  in  1938,  a  United  States  Highway  Corporation  would  be  created, 
which  would  build  and  maintain  a  gridwork  of  ten  national  superhighways  as 
straight  as  modern  engineering  could  make  them  and  with  the  most  modern 
safety  design.  Three  of  these  would  run  east  and  west,  crossed  by  seven  run- 
ning north  and  south.  Each  highway,  made  up  of  from  four  to  twelve  sepa- 
rate lanes,  would  be  built  on  strips  of  property  at  least  300  feet  wide.  Addi- 
tional land  would  be  acquired  along  the  right  of  way  under  the  procedure 
known  as  excess  condemnation.  The  value  of  this  adjoining  property  would 
be  raised  by  the  construction  of  the  superhighways.  The  plan's  sponsors  believe 
that  part  of  the  cost  of  building  the  superhighways  could  be  met  by  the  resale 
of  this  land. 

Representative  Snyder's  bill,  introduced  in  1939,  provides  for  the  construc- 
tion by  the  Department  of  the  Interior  of  nine  superhighways,  totaling  about 
16,000  miles.  This  plan,  basically  very  similar  to  the  Bulkley  plan,  is  still 
pending  before  Congress.  Each  highway  would  be  100  feet  wide  on  a  right 
of  way  500  feet  wide.  The  highways  would  not  pass  through  any  cities  or 
towns  unless  there  was  no  other  place  for  the  road.  In  case  of  an  established 


.Y«t»  York  Times. 
Harry  L.  Newman 


Underwood  &  Underwood 

and  improved  highway  already  existing  anywhere  near  or  parallel  to  the  pro- 
posed highway,  it  might  be  widened  and  taken  in  as  part  of  it,  provided  it  had 
been  built  to  the  proper  specifications.  The  question  as  to  whether  or  not  these 
highways  would  be  toll  roads  has  not  been  decided. 

The  Bureau  of  Public  Roads,  under  the  direction  of  Thomas  H.  MacDonald, 
was  directed  by  the  Federal  Highway  Act  of  1938  to  investigate  the  feasibil- 
ity of  building  three  superhighways  running  east  to  west,  and  three  running 
north  to  south,  with  an  approximate  total  length  of  14,300  miles.  The  routes 
were  to  be  planned  in  relation  to  population  distribution  and  were  to  pass 
through  as  many  states  as  possible.  Finally,  subject  to  all  previous  considera- 
tions, the  routes  were  to  be  located  to  achieve  the  largest  possible  tolls. 

In  working  out  their  plan  on  paper,  the  Bureau  located  the  proposed  high- 
ways entirely  on  new  lines  apart  from  existing  roads,  in  all  but  two  sections. 
It  was  recommended  that  the  chosen  locations  by-pass  cities  and  towns,  but 
pass  sufficiently  close  to  them  wherever  possible  to  attract  their  traffic.  The 
roads  were  laid  on  a  right  of  way  which  varies  in  width  from  a  300-foot 
minimum  in  rural  areas  to  a  160-foot  minimum  in  urban  areas.  Seventy-five 
per  cent  are  two-lane  highways  situated  over  on  one  side  of  the  right  of  way  to 


allow  for  additional  lanes  in  the  future.  The  rest  are  four-lane  highways  with 
a  center  parkway  strip. 

After  laying  out  specifications  for  such  superhighways,  and  determining 
their  routes,  costs  and  expected  traffic  volume,  the  Bureau  reported  that  such 
superhighways  could  not  earn  the  cost  of  their  maintenance  through  toll  col- 
lection, and  were  thus  not  economically  justified.  As  an  alternative  to  the 
building  of  toll  superhighways,  the  Bureau  then  presented  what  it  terms  a 
"Master  Plan  for  Free  Highway  Development."  This  plan  suggests  the  build- 
ing of  a  gridwork  of  inter-regional  highways.  Wherever  possible,  these  high- 
ways are  to  embody  alignments  and  improvements  of  already  existing  roads. 
In  choosing  revised  location,  the  controlling  thought  was  to  provide  reason- 
ably direct  connection  between  major  cities.  The  routes  should  enter  and 
traverse  all  large  cities  by  means  of  adequately  designed  facilities.  Wherever 
necessary  around  large  cities,  limited  access  belt  lines  should  be  provided.  The 
Bureau's  plan  calls  for  a  total  of  26,700  miles. 

All  of  these  proposals  show  a  tendency  to  link  city  to  city  in  an  arbitrary 
grid,  which  will  act  primarily  as  a  palliative  for  present  traffic  ills  rather  than 
as  a  preventive  for  the  future. 

The  problem  can  be  permanently  solved  only  by  better  coordination  be- 
tween traffic  and  the  needs  of  the  population.  It  is  not  enough  to  consider 


ATTLE/  [""*•*•"••————      .     . 




present  requirements;  future  needs  must  be  anticipated.  Congested  highway 
areas  must  be  redesigned.  The  national  traffic-flow  map  of  the  future  must 
show  a  more  even  distribution.  Every  day  it  is  postponed  the  cost  increases. 

The  great  public  interest  in  national  highways,  and  the  number  of  pro- 
posals which  have  been  made,  have  a  reverse  side.  Unanimity  of  national  opin- 
ion on  any  subject  would  be  too  much  to  hope  for.  There  are  a  few  organized 
groups  in  this  country  which  fight  relentlessly  not  only  against  projects  for 
motorways,  but  even  against  the  principles  behind  them.  At  a  business  meet- 
ing a  few  years  ago,  the  president  of  a  leading  railroad  company  is  reported 
to  have  said:  "It  is  to  the  interest  of  our  railroad  that  the  highways  remain 
congested.  If  there  is  anything  which  we  can  practically  do  to  increase  that 
congestion  we  will  do  it.  There  may  be  a  need  today  for  a  through  highway 
for  motor  cars  .  .  .  but  we  will  oppose  any  such  plans  and  will  block  the  ma- 
terialization of  any  such  highway,  just  as  many  years  as  we  can.  If  the  public 
don't  like  the  congested  highways,  let  them  ride  the  railroad." 

Undoubtedly  this  attitude  is  not  held  by  many  people.  The  day  of  ruthless 
competition  and  bitter  rivalry  in  the  field  of  transportation  is  drawing  to  a 
close.  By  1960,  old  feuds  may  be  settled  and  all  the  energy  and  time  which 
used  to  be  given  to  destructive  warfare  may  be  devoted  to  the  single  purpose 
of  perfecting  our  transportation  and  communication  for  the  benefit  of  those 
who  are  most  concerned — the  people. 

It  is  not  sufficient  to  give  up  the  present  local  method  of  hit-or-miss  road 
planning,  and  substitute  for  that  a  method  of  building  a  lot  of  big  roads  on  a 
grand  scale.  For  the  present  travesty  of  planning,  real  planning  must  be  sub- 
stituted. Road  building  as  it  is  being  done  won't  free  the  country  from  the 
likelihood  of  future  congestion.  But  road  building  as  the  result  of  a  compre- 
hensive plan  to  increase  national  distribution,  eliminating  local  whims  and 
fancies,  ending  aimless  duplication  of  effort,  taking  in  all  the  contingencies 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


of  the  nation's  geography,  economics,  and  population  trend — that  is  a  very 
different  thing  indeed. 

The  existence  of  vast  stretches  of  "waste  land"  in  a  nation  where  metro- 
politan real  estate  sometimes  sells  for  as  high  as  $845.00  a  square  foot  indi- 
cates a  lack  of  balance  which  must  be  remedied.  And  the  present  time  seems 
auspicious  for  such  a  remedy.  Free  trade  between  nations  has  been  made  im- 



Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

possible  for  the  present. 
We  must  develop  our  in- 
ternal market.  For  this, 
waste  land  is  no  more 
tolerable  than  is  inade- 
quate transportation. 

A  planned  highway 
system  would  take  people 
from  points  of  conges- 
tion toward  the  unex- 
ploited  lands  of  the  West. 
The  Interstate  Commerce 
Commission  reports  that 
of  125,000  communities 
of  appreciable  size  in  this 
country,  45,000  have 
either  no  rail  service 
whatsoever  or  lack  a 
freight  station.  They  rely 
entirely  on  highways  for 
their  contact  with  the 
outside  world.  Six  million 
farms,  with  a  total  nor- 
mal production  value  of 
about  twelve  billion  dol- 
lars, depend  upon  public 
roads  as  the  only  means  of 
distributing  their  prod- 

uce.  Without  those  roads,  there  is  no  distribution.  Where  the  highways  of 
a  national  system  go,  commerce  and  higher  land  values  and  free  movement 
will  go.  Increase  a  country's  roads,  and  you  increase  its  wealth. 




I  HE  American  people  are  rich  in  many  things.  Above  all,  they  are  rich  in 
union.  Look  at  any  of  the  empires  of  the  past;  in  none  of  them  did  so  great  a 
number  of  people  live  together  on  so  wide  a  land.  In  none  of  them  did  they 
enjoy  such  freedom  and  security.  To  all  the  things  which  Americans  inherit, 
this  union  is  the  key.  They  inherit  the  rich,  varied  traditions  of  racial  groups 
from  all  over  the  world  which  are  now  slowly  fusing  into  a  new  amalgam, 
free  of  national  and  sectional  antagonisms.  They  inherit  these  people's 
energy  and  belief,  the  fruits  of  their  labor  and  the  accumulation  of  their 
capital.  They  inherit  almost  every  natural  resource  known  to  man  and  the 
knowledge  of  how  to  use  these  resources.  A  technology  has  been  placed  into 
their  hands  which  surpasses  anything  dreamed  of  in  other  days.  "Nothing  that 
a  people  could  want,"  Walter  Lippmann  wrote  in  his  Life  article,  "The  Amer- 
ican Destiny,"  "nothing  that  nations  fight  to  obtain,  nothing  that  men  die  to 
achieve  is  lacking,  nothing  except  a  clear  purpose,  and  the  confident  will  to 
make  the  most  of  all  these  things." 

To  that  union  a  special  strength  is  given  today  by  the  newness  of  easy  com- 


munication.  It  is  a  fact  of  importance  that  this  is  the  first  generation  to  have 
at  its  fingertips  every  possible  means  of  mechanical  transportation:  travel  on 
the  ground,  under  the  ground,  in  the  water  and  under  the  water,  and  in  the 
air.  For  the  first  time  in  history,  man  is  now  able  to  communicate  with  any 
point  in  the  world,  using  telephone,  telegraph,  radio  and  now  television.  He 
can  go  any  place  or  get  in  touch  with  any  place.  In  this  fact  lie  great  poten- 
tialities. But  there  also  lie  great  responsibilities. 

The  scope  of  men's  lives  has  always  been  determined  to  a  great  extent  by 
their  facilities  for  movement.  Without  a  highway  system,  for  example,  men 
were  limited  in  their  reach  to  an  area  of  about  50  miles  around  them.  Their 
whole  point  of  view,  their  form  of  statehood,  their  trade  and  their  philosophy 
differed  entirely  from  that  of  men  who  were  able  to  move  out  of  their  valleys 
and  widen  their  horizon. 

Whole  civilizations  have  grown  up  and  flowered  along  the  lines  of  trade 
routes,  and  have  withered  when  those  routes  were  superseded  by  others.  By 
means  of  travel  and  transport  all  the  human  cultures — from  cities  to  states 
to  nations  to  groups  of  nations — have  gathered  their  cultural  heritage  or  dis- 
tributed it.  But  in  all  previous  areas — when  maps  were  faulty  or  ships  inade- 
quate or  mountain  passes  dangerous — there  was  a  great  margin  of  the  un- 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

known.  It  was  hard  to  plan.  So  many  factors  could  not  be  determined.  There 
were  still  so  many  immediate  things  to  be  done  to  make  life  more  tolerable 
that  perhaps  it  was  just  as  well  not  to  look  ahead  too  far.  All  the  people  of  the 
world  stood  surrounded  by  rings  of  uncertainty. 

Modern  communication  and  transportation  have  pierced  to  a  great  extent 
these  rings  of  uncertainty.  The  margin  of  the  unknown  has  been  reduced.  Men 
begin  to  see  how  their  living  conditions  compare  with  those  of  people  far  away, 
to  interchange  experiences,  correlate  findings,  make  use  of  new  ideas.  No  one 
in  his  senses  would  claim  that  today  uncertainty  and  danger  have  been  banished 
from  the  world.  In  Europe  it  is  tragically  obvious  that  facilitated  transporta- 
tion and  communication  do  not  inevitably  increase  harmony  between  peoples. 
In  fact,  when  these  mechanical  instruments  are  placed  in  the  hands  of  rival 
nations,  they  increase  and  hasten  conflict.  But  in  America,  where  almost  a 
whole  continent  is  united  indivisibly,  the  technical  inventions  in  the  fields  of 
transportation  and  communication  serve  a  constructive  purpose. 

Our  generation  has  seen  a  basic  revolution  in  transportation.  It  has  taken 
thirty  years.  We  stand  now  at  the  point  where  this  major  change  has  been 
completed.  What  is  done  in  transportation  in  the  future  will  consist  of  adapta- 
tions of  experiments  already  proven,  or  of  further  developments  in  means  that 
already  exist.  In  this  respect,  our  generation  is  at  a  particular  vantage  point.  It 
can  look  back  upon  a  vast  task  that  has  just  been  accomplished.  It  can  look 
ahead  and  foresee  to  some  extent  the  natural  results  of  all  this — the  effects  that 
such  a  change  will  have  on  future  generations,  on  our  grandchildren. 

In  1960,  if  transportation  in  America  continues  to  advance  as  it  has  to  date, 
the  average  person  will  be  flying  about  in  a  small  mosquito  plane,  a  roadster 
of  the  air.  The  average  car  will  be  smaller,  safer  and  more  economical.  Trains 
will  be  shorter,  lighter,  maintaining  more  frequent  schedules.  There  will  be 
giant  trucks,  fleets  of  trucks,  trackless  trains.  Our  grandchildren  will  travel  at 


speeds  which  are  unheard  of  today.  Better 
farm  machinery  will  reduce  production 
costs  and  working  hours.  New  tastes,  new 
foods  will  be  made  possible.  New  methods 
of  processing  and  packing  and  faster  trans- 
portation will  have  improved  the  quality  of 
foods.  Farms  will  be  feeding  factories  as 
well  as  mouths.  Derivatives  of  milk  are  al- 
ready being  used  in  pharmaceutical,  plastic, 
paper,  dyeing,  leather-tanning,  carbonated 
beverage  industries,  and  we  have  only  be- 
gun to  find  commercial  use  for  skim-milk 
and  whey-derived  by-products. 

By  1960  there  will  probably  be  many 
new  industries.  Artificial  fibers  will  have 
become  a  major  industry.  Textile  filaments 
derived  from  coal,  water  and  air  are  stronger 
and  finer  and  more  elastic  than  any  fiber 
now  in  use.  Threads  of  rubber  and  glass  are 
already  being  woven  into  cloth.  Fabrics 
will  be  poured  like  paper  and  made  into 
clothes  so  cheap  that  it  won't  pay  to  launder 
g  them.  Plastics,  clear  as  glass,  strong  as  steel, 
5  inexpensive  as  clay,  will  find  new  uses  in 


I      homes,  airplanes,  automobiles.  Air  condi- 


1      tioning  and  refrigeration  of  homes  will  be 


|      as  common  as  heating  them.  There  will  be 


|      flameless  stoves  and  rubless  washing  ma- 


chines.  Telephone,  radio,  motion  pictures  and  television  will  have  new  uses: 
they  may  record  messages,  bulletins  and  even  whole  newspapers  and  books  in 
the  home  or  in  the  office.  In  architecture  new  materials,  processes,  pref  abrica- 
tion,  will  tie  up  with  the  concept  of  planning. 

One  of  the  most  helpful  of  modern  paradoxes  is  the  fact  that  mechanical 
industrialism,  which  during  the  hundred  years  of  its  growth  laid  waste  the 
land,  used  up  the  cities,  and  bruised  the  face  of  everything  it  touched,  now 
offers  as  the  fruit  of  its  maturity  such  things  as  powerful  tools,  rationalized 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


techniques,  precision,  teamwork.  For  years  there  was  talk  that  machinery  had 
enslaved  the  individual,  but  now  it  can  free  the  individual.  It  can  do  it  most 
eloquently  through  housing.  The  functional  sound-proof,  air-conditioned 
room  inside  the  well-planned  building  is  only  the  beginning.  The  group  of 
well-planned  buildings — the  community — is  next.  The  country  as  a  whole 
will  follow.  Living  in  such  a  world  of  light,  fresh  air,  open  parks,  easy  move- 
ment, the  man  of  1 960  will  more  naturally  play  his  full  part  in  the  community 
and  develop  in  mind  and  body. 

Some  critics  predict  the  doom  of  the  skyscraper.  The  tall  building,  far  from 



Futurama  Photo  by  General  Motors 

being  a  Frankenstein,  is  really  a  great  possibility  which  we  have  not  yet  learned 
to  use.  The  business  center  of  a  town  of  four  thousand  inhabitants  usually  has 
several  blocks  of  two  and  three  buildings  housing  its  stores,  offices  and  haber- 
dasheries. Doctors  and  lawyers  are  spread  out.  The  Mayor's  office  has  its  own 
building.  There  are  the  movie  theater,  the  bank,  the  telegraph  office.  Each 
little  building  has  its  own  management,  its  heating,  its  upkeep  and  its  incon- 
veniences for  the  shoppers  who  have  to  go  in  and  out  of  door  after  door. 

In  1960  the  shopper  may  go  into  the  one  tall  building  in  which  the  whole 
community  will  be  centered.  The  doctor  will  be  there,  and  the  butcher,  the 
movie,  the  mayor,  the  grocer,  the  drug  store,  the  pet  shop,  bank,  post  office, 
employment  agency.  In  summer  it  will  be  cooled  and  in  winter  heated.  Instead 
of  six  blocks  of  helter-skelter  commercial  buildings  averaging  three  stories  in 
height,  there  will  be  one  block  eighteen  stories  high,  thus  releasing  five  whole 
blocks  for  parks,  playgrounds,  parking  lots  or  residential  sections.  Efficiency 
and  ease  will  have  moved  on  from  city  into  small  town.  And  paralleling  all 
this,  over  the  whole  country,  efficient  highways  will  have  been  laid  down.  But 
these  highways  will  not  be  laid  down  merely  as  required.  They  will  have  been 
carefully  thought  out  and  planned  ahead  in  preparation  for  any  eventuality. 

Many  people  have  a  fear  of  that  word  "planning."  It  has  been  shied  away 
from  in  alarm  as  something  that  implied  restriction  of  the  individual.  But 
intelligent  planning  is  the  only  means  by  which  the  individual  can  fully  de- 
velop his  potentialities  and  opportunities. 

History  reveals  many  examples  of  successful,  intelligent  long-range  plan- 
ning. In  America,  the  Founding  Fathers  laid  out  a  plan  of  national  govern- 
ment that  has  withstood  the  changes  of  time.  The  history  of  American  in- 
dustry, often  pointed  to  as  a  triumph  of  lack  of  planning,  is  also  actually  a 
history  of  brilliant  plans  which  met  success.  The  telephone  industry,  for  ex- 
ample, whose  network  of  wire  has  broken  the  isolation  of  farms,  canceled  out 


state  lines,  altered  whole  ways  of  doing  business  and  increased  the  tempo  of 
life,  did  not  descend  full-grown  upon  America;  it  had  to  be  painstakingly 
planned,  with  detailed  forethought  spent  on  each  aspect  of  the  intricate  prob- 
lem. And  in  this  country  today,  $110,300,000,000  in  life-insurance  policies 
tell  in  eloquent  figures  the  extent  to  which  individuals  plan  and  make  pro- 
vision for  the  future. 

Today,  just  as  the  participation  and  encouragement  of  government  in  the 
work  of  science  has  grown  steadily  more  important,  so  grows  the  need  of  its 
participation  in  long-term  planning.  Thousands  of  private  enterprises,  utilities 
and  industries  have  set  up  agencies  to  study  and  coordinate  their  work,  but 
none  has  gone  as  far  as  setting  down  a  series  of  over-all  principles.  It  has  re- 
mained for  government  to  do  this.  In  1933  the  Federal  government,  recogniz- 
ing the  need  for  such  thinking  in  one  of  its  great  water-power  developments, 
created  the  Tennessee  Valley  Authority,  which  was  to  consider  all  phases  of 
life  in  the  region:  problems  of  the  farmers,  methods  of  hydraulics,  elementary 
education,  chemical  engineering,  agriculture,  electricity,  the  rights  of  seven 
states  within  whose  lines  the  project  lies,  the  interests  of  private  companies. 
The  daring  of  this  venture  equals  its  magnitude.  It  has  accomplished  under 
one  authority  what  never  could  have  been  done  piecemeal,  at  various  times,  by 
various  authorities 

One  of  the  great  corollaries  brought  out  by  the  TVA  was  the  recognition 
that  in  matters  concerning  natural  resources  and  basic  needs  state  borders  can 
no  longer  be  considered  binding.  In  the  past,  many  states  were  able  to  maintain 
a  "splendid  isolation,"  because,  for  geographic  reasons,  they  felt  detached  and 
independent.  But  when  railroads  and  highways  which  did  not  stop  at  state 
lines  came  along,  the  obvious  fact  sunk  in  that  neither  did  rivers,  mountains 
or  the  problems  of  land  use,  conservation  and  erosion  stop  at  state  lines.  Plan- 
ning, which  had  been  almost  impossible  when  people  thought  purely  in  terms 


of  political  divisions,  states,  became  possible  when  people  began  to  think  in 
terms  of  economics.  Accordingly,  various  neighborly  groups  of  states  through- 
out the  country  have  banded  together  and  set  up  their  own  Regional  Planning 
Commissions;  and  the  work  of  these  agencies  encourages  high  hope  for  Amer- 
ica's future.  The  smallest  of  these,  in  regard  to  area  administered,  is  the  Port 
of  New  York  Authority,  set  up  jointly  by  the  States  of  New  York  and  New 
Jersey  to  unify  the  freight  terminals  and  simplify  transportation  around  their 
joint  harbors.  It  has  built  bridges,  tunnels  and  depots,  and  operates  all  of  them 
at  a  steady  profit. 

In  the  Far  West  the  Colorado  River  Basin  Compact  between  seven  states, 
the  entire  Colorado  River  area,  is  vastly  greater.  In  that  region,  every  planning 
consideration  is  subsidiary  to  the  securing  of  an  adequate  water  supply.  The 
development  and  use  of  the  Colorado  River  affects  the  welfare  of  hundreds  of 
cities,  towns  and  villages  containing  millions  of  people.  By  means  of  this  Inter- 
state Compact  and  the  Federal  government's  great  Boulder  Dam  project,  set- 
tlers in  the  region  are  protected  from  floods;  they  are  enabled  to  irrigate  and 
cultivate  hundreds  of  thousands  of  otherwise  arid  acres;  they  are  able  to  elec- 
trify their  farms  and  homes;  and  they  are  finding  that  as  a  result  of  those 
hydro-electric  developments,  various  metallurgical  industries  are  moving  into 
the  region.  In  the  Pacific  Northwest,  a  similar  Regional  Planning  Commission 
has  been  created  for  Montana,  Idaho,  Oregon  and  Washington.  The  same  set- 
up exists  in  New  England,  where  six  states  have  banded  together  in  a  planning 
commission  to  determine  the  long-range  needs  of  the  whole  region. 

There  are  good  examples  of  American  planning,  then,  concerning  natural 
resources  and  regional  surveys,  but  there  has  never  been  an  attempt  to  apply 
these  ideas  of  planning  to  systems  of  transportation.  The  nearest  to  planning 
that  a  highway  engineer  ever  comes  is  at  a  time  of  crisis  when  he  is  suddenly 
asked  to  solve  a  bewildering  traffic  problem  which  has  arisen  only  because  there 


never  was  a  plan.  It  is  this  absence  of  real  highway  planning — municipal,  state 
and  Federal — that  has  caused  the  expenses  for  streets  and  roads  to  be  multi- 
plied beyond  reason.  Planning,  with  knowledge  of  the  past  and  thought  for 
the  future,  is  the  basis  of  constitutional  government,  just  as  it  is  an  essential 
part  of  any  industrial  management. 

The  time  has  come  to  face  the  traffic  problem  as  America  is  learning  to  face 
the  resources  and  conservation  problems.  It  can  no  longer  be  dealt  with  by 
waiting  for  more  developments.  Developments  have  already  occurred.  Their 
result  is  a  pressing  national  emergency.  America  cannot  do  less  than  lay  out, 
with  the  best  forethought  it  can  muster,  a  system  of  motorways  which  twenty 
years  from  now  will  not  be  a  vast  lost  investment,  but  an  adequate  answer  to 
growing  needs.  If  these  motorways  are  to  be  built,  it  can  be  done  only  under 
the  authority  of  one  great  national  plan. 

A  plan  to  govern  the  flow  and  distribution  of  American  motor  traffic  will 
concern  itself  with  broad  sociological  and  economic  issues.  Studies  will  be 
made  of  shifting  population,  future  concentrations,  location  of  vital  mineral 
and  agricultural  wealth,  industrial  and  agricultural  trends  in  the  exploitation 

of  that  wealth,  in  the  light 
°f  changes  that  have  al- 
ready begun. 

Examine  a  general  map 
of  the  United  States.  The 
population  centers  of  to- 
day may  not  be  the  same 
fifty  years  hence.  Cities 
which  now  are  prosper- 
ous may  not  be  so  then. 
Certain  centers,  like  New 


York  and  San  Francisco  and  New  Orleans,  which  lie  in  superb  natural  harbors, 
will  not  fade  in  importance;  nor  will  others  which  contain  basic  industries  or 
produce  terminals.  But  new  cities  will  arise,  as  new  regions  certainly  will,  and 
the  motorway  plan  must  be  so  flexibly  devised  that  its  coverage  can  at  any 
time  be  adapted  and  extended  to  take  care  of  new  conditions.  The  opening  up 
of  those  sections  of  the  United  States  which  are  now  undeveloped  or  lightly 
populated  but  which,  because  of  their  advantages  in  natural  resources,  seem 
destined  to  future  importance,  is  fundamental  to  the  plan  itself.  The  plan 
must  permit  certain  sections  of  the  motorway,  in  case  there  is  no  need  for 
them,  to  be  dropped  without  destroying  the  basic  pattern  of  high-speed  un- 
congested  travel.  The  plan  must  consider  not  only  the  United  States,  but  the 
countries  to  the  north  and  south,  and  the  probable  relations  of  their  people 
to  ours.  Canada  and  South  America  will  probably  be  of  more  importance  to 
the  United  States  in  the  future  than  they  are  today.  Routes  will  have  to  be 
designed  to  accommodate  traffic  draining  through  the  United  States  from 
Alaska  to  South  America. 

Contrary  to  accepted  practice,  the  motorways  must  not  be  laid  down  using 
cities  as  their  terminal  points,  nor  must  they  be  allowed  to  infringe  on  city 
boundaries  or  the  city  proper.  They  must  connect  with  cities,  ports  and  in- 
dustrial centers,  as  well  as  with  existing  inter-urban  roads,  by  means  of  feeder 
roads,  thus  serving  population  centers  without  entering  the  actual  concentra- 
tion points.  They  must  be  designed  to  enlarge  the  sphere  of  each  individual 
motor-car  operator;  to  develop  road  construction  into  a  higher  type  of  indus- 
try, using  the  full  knowledge  of  all  phases  of  engineering,  prefabrication, 
permanent  and  resilient  surfacing,  illumination  and  automatic  traffic  control. 
While  express  motorways  must  be  designed  to  carry  fast,  long-distance  traffic, 
no  existing  roads  need  be  scrapped.  The  country's  1940  roads  will  continue  to 
carry  local  traffic,  and  their  usefulness  will  be  enhanced  by  connection  with 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


the  new  motorways,  just  as  rural  telephone  systems  give  a  wider  range  of 
service  when  connected  to  the  transcontinental  trunk-line  network  that  ex- 
tends throughout  the  country. 

On  the  accompanying  map  such  a  Motorway  Plan  has  been  worked  out. 
This  plan  is  based  on  a  relatively  brief,  preliminary  study.  But,  although  it  is 


necessarily  tentative,  it  is  a  key  to  a  final  comprehensive  plan.  Its  design  sums 
up  the  basic  requirements  of  such  a  plan. 

This  map  shows  the  country's  principal  population  centers.  Large  black 
dots  represent  the  larger  cities,  and  cities  with  smaller  population  are  shown 
as  stars.  Every  city  in  the  country  with  a  population  of  50,000  or  over  is  indi- 
cated. The  heavy  lines  represent  the  routes  of  the  National  Motorway  System. 
Fine  lines  show  the  tentatively  proposed  superhighways  of  the  Federal  Bureau 
of  Public  Roads,  for  purposes  of  comparison.  The  scale  on  this  map  is  so  small 
that  a  pin  point  represents  a  distance  of  approximately  ten  miles.  Because  of 
this,  only  general  routes  are  shown.  Motorways  won't  really  converge  at  the 
sudden  angles  which  the  map  suggests.  They  will  overpass  and  underpass  each 
other,  using  wide-flowing  developments  of  present-day  cloverleafs;  their  traf- 
fic streams  in  the  opposite  direction  will  be  completely  separated,  and  individ- 
ual lanes  in  the  same  direction  will  be  segregated  by  separators.  Although  on 
the  map  they  look  like  solid  lines  shooting  across  the  country,  actually  they 
are  complicated  mechanisms  which  differentiate  sharply  between  through 
traffic  and  maneuvering  traffic,  and  which  provide  automatically  safe  means 
for  entering  and  leaving  the  motorways.  Their  lanes  are  designed  for  three 
separate  and  constant  speeds  of  50,  75  and  100  miles  an  hour.  Their  grades  are 
constant,  never  excessive.  Their  curving  radii  are  constant,  and  always  gen- 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


xr:rM«£3      s-^L>&*i&L>    /        _ — * — rrr>*Cirw/  \//-\o\ 

CITIES     OVER     500,000    POPULATION ' '  >AJ£" 



CITIES  50,000  TO  500,000  POPULATION 

Norman  Bel  Geddes,   193? 

erous.  All  over  the  United  States,  the  motorways  are  uniform  and  function  in 
exactly  the  same  way. 

The  first  step  which  was  taken  in  planning  this  motorway  system  was  made 
by  laying  out  lines  connecting  all  cities  with  populations  over  100,000.  This 
resulted  in  a  maze  of  criss-crossing  lines  covering  the  country,  dense  in  heavily 
congested  sections,  sparse  where  cities  are  spread  out.  A  study  of  this  map 
showed  that  there  were  certain  sectional  centers  of  population  common  to 
groups  of  cities.  By  joining  these  sectional  centers  there  resulted  a  series  of  lines 
leading  from  one  center  to  another. 

See  how  directly  the  lines  lead  from  one  region  to  another.  Notice  that  a 
direct  route  connects  Seattle  and  El  Paso — making  possible  uninterrupted 


travel  from  the  northwest  tip  of  the  United  States  to  the  southernmost  section. 
The  various  seaports  on  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific  Coasts  are  directly  connected, 
facilitating  overland  transportation  of  imports  and  exports.  The  important 
industrial  centers  are  joined  with  the  seaports.  Nowhere  do  the  cities  contact 
the  motorways,  although  they  are  all  fairly  close  to  them.  The  heaviest  route 
of  all  avoids  Boston,  Providence,  New  York,  Philadelphia  and  Baltimore  as  it 
steers  straight  toward  Washington.  Traffic  moves  in  almost  a  straight  line 
from  Boston  to  New  Orleans  without  passing  through  a  single  city.  Yet  no 
city  of  over  100,000  is  more  than  50  miles  from  a  motorway,  and  most  of 
them  are  half  that  distance.  The  motorways  never  veer  from  their  course  in 
order  to  avoid  a  city.  Chicago,  Detroit,  Los  Angeles  and  New  York — all  of 
them  are  conveniently  near  these  motorways. 

Look  at  the  northernmost  motorway,  which  runs  east- west  across  the  top 
tier  of  states.  It  starts  about  50  miles  outside  of  Boston.  It  sweeps  slightly 
northward  through  Central  New  York  toward  Rochester,  passing  Buffalo  on 
the  north.  It  crosses  the  Niagara  River  above  the  falls;  without  swerving,  it 
hurries  through  the  province  of  Ontario,  crosses  Lake  St.  Clair  north  of  De- 
troit, avoids  Grand  Rapids  by  3  5  miles,  and  makes  straight  for  Lake  Michigan. 
At  this  point  the  lake  is  5  0  miles  wide.  Never  mind.  There  is  no  let-down  on 
the  motorway.  It  shoots  directly  across  the  lake  on  a  long  bridge.  When  it 
reaches  shore,  Milwaukee  is  well  off  to  the  south,  Sheboygan  close  by  on  the 
north.  It  heads  through  the  lake  and  dairy  country  of  Wisconsin,  increasing 
its  northerly  slant  in  order  to  make  connections  with  the  Twin  Cities.  When 
it  moves  into  the  great  land  of  summer  wheat,  the  drivers  know  they're  in 
the  Dakotas.  Billings,  Montana,  dips  by  to  the  south,  and  the  Rockies  rise 
ahead.  Still  the  motorway  never  veers.  Its  slow  lanes  may  start  to  wind  as  it 
rises  into  the  wild  country  beyond  Butte  and  Anaconda,  but  the  100-mile 
lane  darts  straight  through.  All  the  lanes  come  off  the  divide  together  at  the 


Columbia  River.  They  head  down  the  steep  river  basin  for  Portland.  Just 
before  getting  there,  they  meet  the  great  Pacific  Coast  Motorway  and  merge 
in  a  sweeping  non-stop  intersection. 

In  order  to  realize  the  ground  this  route  has  covered — and  the  ground  that 
planned  engineering  has  saved  it  from  covering — one  had  best  look  at  the 
figures.  By  airplane,  the  distance  from  Boston  to  Portland  is  2,800  miles.  On 
the  best  1940  highways,  the  distance  is  3,320  miles — 16  per  cent  longer  than 
by  airplane.  The  motorway  distance  is  about  3,000  miles — only  7  per  cent 
longer  than  by  air!  All  the  routes  of  the  Motorway  System — horizontal,  verti- 
cal and  diagonal — are  so  straightened  out  over  present  roads  that  the  air-line 
route  is  only  7  per  cent  straighter. 

The  result  of  this  National  Motorway  System  is  that  traffic  by  car,  bus  and 
truck  can  move  swiftly,  safely,  comfortably  and  economically  over  direct 
rights  of  way  with  a  sufficient  number  of  lanes  to  take  care  of  the  correspond- 
ing volume  of  traffic.  This  constitutes  a  new  form  of  transportation.  The  prin- 
ciples behind  it  go  beyond  the  immediate  aim  of  linking  sections  of  the  coun- 
try in  the  most  direct  and  economical  fashion.  Another  principle  is  involved: 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison       tO   provide    ahead   of    time 

for  each  coming  half  cen- 
tury's traffic  growth. 
That  means  reaching  out 
into  the  future  of  this 
country,  its  people,  its  in- 
dustries. Therefore  it  ob- 
viously can  be  organized 
and  built  only  by  full  and 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


central  authority.  The  organization  which  goes  about  this  vast  work  must  be 
a  permanent  one,  as  independent  of  factional  politics  as  the  Army  and  Navy. 
Implicit  in  it  is  the  idea  of  a  master  plan,  and  the  steps  by  which  that  plan  is 
designed  must  be  as  carefully  determined  as  the  final  plan  itself.  They  can  be 
listed  as  follows: 

1 )  The  National  Motorway  Planning  Authority  should  organize  a  research 
and  engineering  staff  to  develop  its  program  and  to  direct  and  coordinate  its 
work  with  the  individual  efforts  of  state,  county  and  municipal  programs. 

2)  The  Authority  should  collect,  analyze  and  disseminate  information 
about  methods  of  highway  construction  as  observed  in  all  phases  of  scientific 

3 )  The  Authority  should  develop  new  ideas  and  methods  to  bring  about 
safety,  comfort,  speed  and  economy;  these  findings  will  be  circulated  to  vari- 
ous construction  departments  and  bureaus  for  incorporation  into  the  nation's 
road  system. 

4)  The  Authority  should  provide  the  nation  with  a  plan  that  takes  into 
consideration  all  the  best  things  that  have  been  done  in  road  building  so  far 
and  superimpose  upon  them  a  master  Motorway  System  that  will  look  far  into 
the  future. 

These  steps,  suggesting  a  most  careful  and  studied  approach,  will  be  made 



even  more  deliberate  by  the  fact  that  the  National  Motorway  System  will  not 
all  be  built  at  once.  The  "go"  signal  for  the  construction  of  a  new  motorway 
will  not  be  given  until  population  flow,  traffic  density  and  other  considerations 
indicate  its  necessity.  National  survey  and  research  will,  however,  determine 
the  right  of  way  needed  a  good  while  before  its  construction  is  actually  re- 
quired, and  reserve  it  for  that  purpose.  This  long-range  over-all  planning  will 
make  it  possible  to  secure  the  rights  of  way  before  emergency  conditions 
cause  a  rise  in  land  values. 

This  is  not  an  impractical,  visionary  proposal.  Such  thorough  planning  and 
organization  is  not  unknown  today.  To  cite  just  one  example,  refer  once  more 

[  282  ] 

to  the  telephone  industry.  Every  detail  in  this  industry's  intricate  organiza- 
tion is  anticipated  and  planned.  When  a  new  transcontinental  or  overseas 
cable  is  needed,  there  is  no  frantic  last-minute  rush  to  collect  strands  of  cop- 
per. The  cable,  the  result  of  years  of  study  and  design,  is  available.  The  cable 
has  been  built  long  before  the  need  for  it  became  an  emergency.  A  traffic 
bureau,  maintained  just  to  study  population  movements,  informs  the  com- 
pany of  every  change  in  commercial  centers  and  the  focal  points  of  regions. 
The  location  of  lines  is  planned  in  terms  of  this  research. 

The  same  procedure  must  be  followed  in  road  building,  because  roads  are 
not  ends  in  themselves  but  means  to  ends.  They  depend  on  and  are  designed 
for  human  enterprise.  Other  inventions  bring  the  world  to  us.  But  the  car 
enables  us  to  go  out  into  the  world  ourselves.  Communication  of  ideas  and 
emotions  thus  established  has  the  effect  of  bringing  the  country  into  a  closer 
unity.  In  this  way  an  enormous  influence  is  brought  to  bear  on  the  manners 
and  morals  of  the  nation.  Old  ideas  of  education  are  revised;  new  antidotes 
for  ennui  are  discovered.  Isolated  communities  are  knit  together  and  con- 
gested centers  can  spread  out. 

Road  building  must  be  viewed  in  an  entirely  different  light  than  it  has  been 
up  to  now.  It  has  to  be  considered  as  something  far  more  than  merely  provid- 
ing the  means  for  getting  people  from  one  place  to  the  next.  The  motorways 
must  be  considered  as  an  essential  part  of  the  entire  economic  system  of  the 
country.  The  problem  of  traffic  flow  is  only  a  step  removed  from  the  problems 
of  resources,  conservation,  national  defense,  education  and  unemployment.  As 
the  American  road  builder  of  the  future  becomes  a  planner,  he  will  grow  into 
a  key  individual  who  is  responsible  to  the  whole  nation. 



T  is  standard  practice  among  highway  engineers  to  calculate  in  figures  the 
results — chiefly  in  terms  of  economies  in  time  and  fuel  consumption — that 
will  come  from  the  building  of  a  new  road.  With  this  motorway,  the  problem 
is  the  same  only  stepped  up  a  thousandfold.  The  forecasting  here  rises  to  a  very 
special  plane.  For  these  motorways,  when  added  up  together,  do  not  amount 
to  just  so  many  thousand  miles  of  new  road.  The  principles  behind  their  con- 
struction are  those  of  freeing  traffic  and  opening  up  land.  What  that  amounts 
to  isn't  just  "extension"  or  "improvement,"  but  actually  a  new  form  of  trans- 

It  has  been  said  before  that  every  new  form  of  transportation  is,  almost  by 
definition,  revolutionary.  The  effects  of  revolutions  are  felt  through  the  en- 
tire economy.  They  may  be  shocks.  They  are  also  likely  to  be  vast  advances. 

The  coming  of  the  automobile  itself  had  revolutionary  effects  upon  Ameri- 
can industry.  A  vast  new  group  of  manufacturers  came  into  existence.  Mil- 
lions of  men  and  women  found  new  employment.  An  undreamed-of  increase 
took  place  in  the  production  of  related  industries.  Original  and  ingenious 






manufacturing  methods  were  devised  to  fulfill  newly  created  needs.  By  1939, 
it  was  found  that  every  fifth  dollar  spent  in  retail  business  represented  pur- 
chases of  or  for  automobiles.  An  even  more  impressive  indication  of  the  eco- 
nomic value  of  the  automobile  was  that  one  out  of  every  seven  employed 
persons  in  the  country  was  engaged  in  the  motor  transport  field.  Even  the 
competing  railroads  benefited  from  the  motor  industry,  carrying  one  carload 
of  automotive  equipment  out  of  every  seven  carloads  of  freight. 

These  were  some  of  the  immediate  effects  of  one  new  industry.  The  effects 
of  a  great  motorway  system  must  be  calculated  on  an  even  broader  basis.  That 
the  opening  of  new  traffic  arteries  and  the  speeding-up  of  truck  and  passenger 
transport  will  result  in  greater  use  of  automobiles  and  of  the  products  that 
serve  them  is  unquestionable.  These  new  roads  are  not  to  be  laid  down  for  the 
motor  car  alone.  As  the  national  motorway  system  is  built,  distribution  is  also 
built.  Travel  radius  increases.  Travel  habits  are  changed.  Decentralized  com- 
munities come  into  existence,  population  trends  are  changed.  Cities  tend  to 
become  centers  for  working,  the  country  districts  centers  for  living.  A  de- 

[  288  ] 

mand  for  new  products  will  be  created  which  may  far  transcend  the  mere 
demand  for  motor  cars.  New  roads  open  new  communities  for  new  housing. 
And  the  motorway  system  does  far  more  than  that.  Questions  of  land  use  are 
raised;  they  may  be  answered  by  entire  shifts  in  location  of  agriculture.  With 
the  re-studying  of  the  use  of  land  comes  the  possibility  of  tapping  new  re- 
sources. Opportunities  are  thus  made  for  new  industries. 

A  national  motorway  system  maintaining  a  high  grade  of  efficiency  will 
maintain  the  flow  of  goods  to  the  consumer  without  interruption.  Demand 
can  be  more  easily  predicted;  supply  will  be  more  uniform,  and  to  that  extent 
business  will  grow  more  stable.  With  expanded  markets,  prices  will  become 
more  uniform. 

Today  only  those  sections  of  the  country  which  are  served  by  railroads  are 
of  economic  consequence.  Road  development  so  far  has  followed  population 
and  commercial  development,  not  led  it.  Roads  have  left  vast  tracts  of  farm 
land  relatively  inaccessible.  By  avoiding  difficult  mountain  terrain,  roads  have 
left  unopened  regions  that  contain  great  resources.  Every  schoolboy  knows 
that  America's  basic  steel  industry  at  the  end  of  the  nineteenth  century 
flourished  in  places  where  coal  was  near  at  hand  and  to  which  iron  ores  could 
readily  be  transported.  Future  schoolboys  may  have  to  go  further  and  recite 
how  the  new  metallurgical  industries  which  became  basic  toward  the  middle 
of  the  twentieth  century  grew  up  in  places  where  hydro-electric  power  and 
the  ores  for  alloys  were  near  at  hand.  The  older  industry,  centered  in  the  Great 
Lakes  basin,  had  waterways  at  its  disposal,  and  railroads  were  built  to  serve  it. 
The  newer  industries,  moving  into  the  upland  of  power  projects  and  mountain 
ores,  don't  have  waterways,  and  sometimes  don't  have  railways.  In  1940  no 
advantage  could  be  taken  of  the  great  source  of  stored-up  water  power  in  the 
inaccessible  mountain  lakes  scattered  all  over  the  country.  The  great  motor- 
ways which  alone  could  overcome  this  isolation  hadn't  yet  been  built. 

[  289  ] 

For  farmers  the  twin  facts  of  increased  speed  and  widened  radius  will  be 
valuable  in  bringing  their  produce  closer  to  market,  bringing  their  farms 
within  the  orbit  of  an  active  economy.  In  turn,  city  housewives,  buying  a 
staple  such  as  eggs,  will  not  have  to  depend  either  on  the  products  of  what 
may  be  inferior  nearby  poultrymen  or  on  "fresh"  eggs  that  have  taken  a  week 
to  get  to  the  city,  via  truck,  terminal,  train,  and  then  terminal  and  truck 
again.  High-speed  trucks  will  transport  the  most  perishable  foods  overnight 
directly  from  one  point  to  another,  eliminating  the  in-between  delays.  That 
will  release  many  farmers  from  their  age-old  attempt  to  produce  a  certain 
fruit  or  vegetable  which  another  farmer  1,000  miles  away  can  produce 
far  more  efficiently.  A  day  may  come,  indeed,  when  each  piece  of  land  is  used 
only  for  those  crops  for  which  its  soil  is  particularly  well  suited. 

While  one  is  adding  up  the  specific  effects  which  a  new  motorway  system 
will  have,  one  must  not  overlook  the  tourist  industry.  The  American  tourist 
spends  billions  of  dollars  a  year  traveling  within  his  own  country.  In  Florida, 
tourist  trade  is  vastly  more  profitable  than  the  basic  citrus-fruit  industry.  In 
California,  it  is  nearly  as  important  as  petroleum.  In  Michigan,  it  is  second 
only  to  automobiles,  and  in  Maine,  second  only  to  farming.  The  principle  that 
drives  most  tourists  is  to  get  as  far  away  from  their  homes  as  the  usual  two- 
week  vacation  will  permit.  A  100-mile-an-hour  motorway  system  will  treble 
their  range,  opening  up  new  vacation  fields. 

The  essence  of  the  motorway  idea  is  that  of  new  opportunity.  A  demand 
for  new  ways  of  doing  things  will  create  demands  for  new  things  themselves. 
Yesterday's  luxuries  will  be  converted  into  today's  necessities.  The  lifeblood 
of  industry  is  constant  expansion.  Economic  recovery  and  prosperity  are 
achieved,  not  by  suppressing  industry  but  by  creating  more  industry.  More 
industry  puts  more  people  to  work.  What  holds  America  back  from  doing 
vital  deeds  today  is  not,  as  in  some  countries,  exhaustion  or  even,  primarily, 

[  290  ] 


uturama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


fear  of  war.  There  is  no  lack  of  individual  courage.  But  there  exists  a  certain 
public  suspicion  of  united  effort.  No  one  denies  that  America  is  strong  and 
rich,  that  it  has  vast  possibilities,  but  people  dispute  about  the  ways  in  which 
America  might  realize  these  possibilities.  The  land  is  vast,  and  so  are  its  prob- 
lems. But  vaster  still  are  the  rewards  which  will  come  to  the  generation  that 
ceases  to  shrink  from  great  vision  and  great  labor.  People  will  see  that  if  roads 
are  designed  specifically  for  their  traffic,  then  whole  cities  too  ought  to  be  de- 
signed specifically  for  the  business  of  cities.  It  is  not  the  business  of  cities  to 
serve  as  residential  centers.  It  is  their  business  to  serve  as  occupational  units, 
nerve-centers,  headquarters.  Then  they  should  be  designed  as  such. 

The  obverse  of  this  is  that  the  same  kind  of  thinking  will  be  applied  to  the 
residential  areas  as  they  move  out  from  congestion,  bad  air  and  blight.  People 
will  learn  that  the  method  of  dividing  suburbs  into  square  blocks  fronted  with 
tight  rows  of  houses  doesn't  make  them  suburbs  at  all,  but  just  transplanted 
cities.  When  new  outlying  communities  are  built,  they  will  be  planned  long 
before  the  houses  go  up.  Streets  out  of  reach  of  through  traffic,  underpasses 
for  pedestrians,  and  dwellings  will  be  set  to  take  advantage  of  topography, 
the  position  of  the  sun,  the  prevailing  currents  of  the  air.  Outdoor  recreation 
will  not  be  provided  for  as  an  afterthought.  Apply  this  thinking  to  a  mill 
town  along  the  Monongahela  River,  where  thousands  of  families  live  along- 
side the  grimy  mills.  Those  towns  were  set  up  when  transportation  was  diffi- 
cult. With  an  adequate  highway  system  to  transport  them  back  and  forth, 
these  families  could  be  moved  30  to  50  miles  away  from  their  place  of  work. 
A  day  will  come  when  factory  labor  lives  not  in  shanties  on  the  other  side  of 
the  tracks,  but  in  healthy  uplands  between  forest  and  stream. 

Farms  will  center  around  what  might  be  called  an  agricultural  terminal, 
managed  by  the  community  of  farmers  for  the  common  purposes  of  storing, 
selling,  and  shipping.  Rural  isolation  will  give  way  to  rural  cooperation. 

[  292  ] 

By  eliminating  friction  and  the  jams  in  social  life  today,  planning  makes 
for  health — not  alone  the  physical  health  that  one  may  expect  from  decentral- 
ization and  free  movement,  but  for  mental  health  as  well.  The  sociologist 
Charles  H.  Cooley  merely  reiterated  a  widely  felt  suspicion  when  he  stated, 
"The  extreme  concentration  of  population  at  centers  has  deplorable  effects 
upon  the  health,  intelligence  and  morals  of  people."  When  the  time  comes  and 
transportation  finally  realizes  its  purpose — namely,  to  free  men  from  bondage 
to  their  immediate  surroundings — it  is  not  only  their  bodies  that  will  be  re- 
stored by  sun  and  air  and  contact  with  nature.  It  is  their  minds  as  well. 

Motoring  is  one  of  the  most  popular  recreations  there  is.  It  promotes  the 
sense  of  freedom  that  comes  from  greater  mobility.  It  introduces  variety, 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 
'*%,         * 

v>;  :^ 



Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

change  of  scenery,  a  greater  social  diffusion,  a  widening  of  the  horizon. 

This  freedom  of  movement,  this  opening  up  of  what  is  congested,  this  dis- 
carding of  what  is  obsolete  all  add  up  to  one  thing:  interchange — inter- 
change of  people,  places,  ways  of  life,  and  therefore  modes  of  thought.  The 
American  nation  is  not  going  to  be  able  to  solve  the  major  problems  facing  it 
until  its  people  of  various  classes  and  regions — the  workers,  the  intellectuals, 
the  farmers,  the  business  men — get  to  know  each  other  better  and  to  under- 
stand each  other's  problems. 

An  America  in  which  people  are  free,  not  in  a  rhetorical  sense,  but  in  the 
very  realistic  sense  of  being  freed  from  congestion,  waste  and  blight — free  to 
move  out  on  good  roads  to  decent  abodes  of  life — free  to  travel  over  routes 
whose  very  sight  and  feel  give  a  lift  to  the  heart — that  is  an  America  whose 


-.— k 

Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 


inner  changes  may  far  transcend  the  alterations  on  the  surface.  If  city  dweller 
can  know  the  land,  Easterner  know  Westerner,  the  man  who  has  lived  among 
mountains  know  harbors  and  the  sea,  then  horizons  will  be  broadened,  in- 
dividual lives  will  grow.  Along  with  the  interchange,  there  will  be  plenty  of 
diversity.  And  diversity — whether  racial  or  geographic — is  a  basic  heritage 
of  America.  And  out  of  that  very  interchange  of  diversity  will  come  another 
thing — something  which  in  this  era  of  misunderstanding  and  conflict  and  war 
may  be  the  most  essential  thing  of  all.  Our  country  was  founded  on  it.  We 
call  it  unity.  It  is  not  a  unity  imposed  from  above,  such  as  exists  under  dic- 
tatorship, but  a  unity  based  on  freedom  and  understanding. 

A  national  motorway  system  will  have  still  another  important  effect.  It  will 
supplement  American  military  defense.  Mobility  has  always  been  the  keynote 


of  warfare  from  the  beginning  of  time,  and  today  with  the  highly  mechanized 
transport  developments  in  military  machines  this  factor  reaches  its  highest 
importance.  The  value  of  military  machines  increases  in  direct  ratio  to  the 
value  of  the  roadway  over  which  they  maneuver.  An  army  which  can  arrive 
at  a  point  of  attack  in  the  shortest  possible  time  is  an  efficient  army.  Delay  is 
fatal.  Artillery  equipment  which  cannot  be  moved  to  a  danger  zone  quickly 
when  it  is  needed  is  useless  artillery.  The  national  motorway  system  would 
enable  almost  instantaneous  transport  of  men  and  equipment  to  any  point  in 
the  nation,  east,  west,  north  or  south.  The  bulk  of  our  military  force  could  be 
shifted  from  one  extreme  section  of  the  country  to  another  in  a  day  or  two 
at  the  most.  Fast  and  efficient  air  service  could  not  accomplish  this  because  it 
is  too  expensive  and  because  it  cannot  handle  the  great  bulk  required.  Fast 
and  efficient  train  service  would  not  be  adequate  either,  because  the  train  is 
not  as  flexible  a  vehicle  as  the  motor  car.  Furthermore,  an  express  motorway 
system  of  this  nature  would  avoid  all  cities  and  towns,  which  would  not  only 
have  the  effect  of  speeding  up  the  mobilization  but  of  spreading  it  out,  helping 
to  avoid  the  dangerous  concentration  of  men  and  equipment  which  makes  war 
against  innocent  civilians  in  cities  such  a  ghastly  aspect  of  modern  war.  Really 
fast  land  transportation  without  danger  of  accidents  could  well  be  the  number 
one  asset  of  a  military  defense  system. 

Many  aspects  of  military  defense  must  be  regarded  as  an  unfortunate  neces- 
sity because  they  serve  no  positive,  creative  peaceful  function — they  do  not 


Futurama  Photo  by  Richard  Garrison 

provide  us  with  more  food,  better  housing,  better  health,  better  working 
conditions,  more  economic  security.  In  fact,  money  has  to  be  spent  on  them 
which  might  otherwise  be  spent  on  internal  improvements.  But  national 
motorways  are  at  one  and  the  same  time  both  an  effective  instrument  of 
military  defense  and  a  constructive  aid  in  internal  improvement. 

We  all  hope  that  America  will  not  become  involved  in  Europe's  tragic  war. 
Let  us  build  American  motorways  which  will  help  us  to  stay  out  and  which 
will,  at  the  same  time,  help  us  make  the  most  of  this  country's  peace-time 

To  carry  buildings  and  streets  with  you  afterward  wherever  you  go, 

To  gather  the  minds  of  men  out  of  their  brains  as  you  encounter  them,  to 

gather  the  love  out  of  their  hearts, 
To  take  your  lovers  on  the  road  with  you,  for  all  that  you  leave  them  behind 

To  know  the  universe  itself  as  a  road,  as  many  roads,  as  roads  for  traveling  souls. 



Norman  Bel  Geddes 

The  Author  of  Magic  Motorways 

Norman  Bel  Geddes  was  born  April  27, 
1893,  in  Adrian,  Michigan.  He  left  public 
school  in  the  ninth  grade  to  begin  and  com- 
plete, in  a  period  of  six  months,  in  Cleveland 
and  Chicago,  the  only  academic  art  training 
he  had.  In  his  teens  he  painted  portraits  of 
such  persons  as  Enrico  Caruso,  Brand  Whit- 
lock,  Ernestine  Schumann-Heink,  etc.  He  se- 
cured a  position  in  a  leading  advertising 
agency  in  Detroit  by  offering  to  work  without 
salary;  after  six  months  he  was  made  the 
firm's  art  director  at  the  age  of  twenty.  In 
1916,  a  play  which  he  had  written  led  to  his 
designing  six  productions  in  Los  Angeles,  the 
first  being  Zoe  Akins'  Papa. 

In  all  he  has  designed  over  two  hundred 
theatrical  productions — plays  and  operas — 
among  them  the  famous  setting  for  Max 
Reinhardt's  The  Miracle.  In  1925  Geddes 
visited  Hollywood  and  designed  movies  for 
Cecil  De  Mille  and  D.  W.  Griffith.  He  has 
produced  plays  as  well  as  directing  and  de- 
signing them,  including  Jeanne  D'Arc  with 
Eva  Le  Gallienne  in  Paris,  Lysistrata  with 
Miriam  Hopkins,  Fay  Bainter  and  Ernest 
Truex,  and  Dead  End.  He  was  the  creator 
of  the  popular  Futurama,  the  outstanding  ex- 
hibit of  the  World's  Fair,  1939  and  1940.  As 
a  designer,  he  has  originated  and  improved  a 
wide  variety  of  everyday  objects  that  enter 
into  our  American  life.  He  is  a  man  of  almost 
unbelievable  energy,  irascible  and  unpredict- 
able at  times,  but  loved  and  admired  by  a 
vast  circle  of  friends  that  even  includes  his 


for  a  LIFETIME  Library 


I.  The  Genesis  of  the  New  Deal    II.  The  Year  of  Crisis    III.  The  Advance  of 

Recovery  and  Reform    IV.  The  Court  Disapproves    V.  The 

People  Approve.  Fiye  volumes,  boxed. 


v       <r__ 


Complete  in  a  beautiful  four-volume  set,  boxed. 


Complete  and  unabridged  in  four  volumes,  boxed. 



Ittion,  i 

The  third  and  standard  edition,  complete  and  unabridged. 



All  the  extant  tragedies  of  Aeschylus,  Sophocles  and  Euripides  and  the 

comedies  of  Aristophanes  and  Menander.  Forty-seven 

plays  in  a  variety  of  translations. 


RANDOM  HOUSE    •    20   E   57   STREET    •     NEW   YORK